Boss of pensions watchdog exits after BHS and Carillion controversies

The chief executive of the Pensions Regulator is stepping down following years of criticism from MPs over high profile failings related to BHS and Carillion.

Lesley Titcomb will step down in February 2019 at the end of her four-year contract at the watchdog, saying she wanted time to pursue "other interests and opportunities".

Ms Titcomb came under fire from MPs for the regulator's handling of both the collapse of BHS and Carillion.

The Work and Pensions select committee, which is chaired by Labour's Frank Field, accused the regulator of taking a "tentative and apologetic approach" under Ms Titcomb's leadership.

Frank Field
Frank Field

In a report on the collapse of Carillion, MPs said the regulator "failed in all its objectives regarding the Carillion pension scheme" and allowed executives to avoid paying sufficient amounts into the pension scheme.

"Scheme members will receive reduced pensions. The Pension Protection Fund and its levy payers will pick up their biggest bill ever. Any growth in the company that resulted from scrimping on pension contributions can hardly be described as sustainable," the report said.

Following the collapse of BHS, MPs criticised the regulator for being slow to act in the interests of pensioners.

The regulator did, however, help secure a £363 million contribution to the pension scheme from Sir Philip Green, the retail tycoon who sold BHS for £1 ahead of its collapse.

Ms Titcomb said: "This has been a difficult personal decision taken after extensive discussion with family and the chairman.

"I love working at the Pensions Regulator and am immensely proud of what we are achieving. But as I turn 57 next month, the end of my contract in February 2019 feels like the appropriate moment to find more time in my life for family, friends, other interests and opportunities."