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Help for small employers on choosing a pension scheme

Ref: PN15-31
Thursday 16 July 2015

The Pensions Regulator today stepped up its support for the 1.3 million small and micro businesses preparing for automatic enrolment by publishing guidance to help them find a good quality pension scheme.

The regulator is updating the suite of information and tools on its website to make it as straightforward as possible for smaller employers, many of which have little or no experience of pensions, to get automatic enrolment right.

Research by the regulator suggests one in five (290,000) employers will not seek advice when choosing a pension scheme, while one in ten (130,000) do not know how to select a scheme, or think it will be difficult.

Refreshed website content that has gone live today includes information to help employers find a scheme including, for the first time, a list of ‘master trust’ pension schemes open to employers of all sizes, and which have been independently reviewed to help to demonstrate that they are administered to a high standard. The voluntary master trust assurance framework was developed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) in association with The Pensions Regulator to enable auditors to provide independent assurance on scheme quality.

In addition, a quick guide for small and micro employers on what to look out for when choosing a scheme suited to their needs, and updates to website pages for IFAs and accountants, have been published.

The regulator’s communications material will continue to signpost employers to NEST, the scheme established by the Government with a public service obligation to accept all employers, the National Association of Pension Funds’ PQM READY site and the Association of British Insurers’ list of automatic enrolment providers.

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, said:

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of the 1.3 million small and micro employers approaching automatic enrolment want to do the right thing. However, many will choose not to seek advice and will need additional support to meet their duties.

“We are committed to providing them with the information they need to make confident choices when it comes to choosing a quality scheme for their employees. My message to employers is clear: prepare early to make the most of the wealth of support available on our website. We are here to help.

“Our research shows that large multi-employer pension schemes such as master trusts and group personal pensions are better placed to meet the standards we believe are necessary for good outcomes for retirement savers. The list we have published today will help employers more easily identify master trusts that have demonstrated they can deliver quality standards, alongside other schemes including NEST.

“I strongly urge other master trust schemes to follow the lead of those which have already committed to the voluntary assurance framework so that the choice of quality schemes available for employers continues to grow.”

You can watch a video which accompanies this press release using the above media player. To view subtitles select the subtitles icon at the bottom of the video. You can also download a full transcript of the video (PDF, 66kb, 2 pages).

Editor's notes

  1. The new guide to choosing a pension scheme features within the online step-by-step guide for small and micro employers, launched in March, designed to help them comply with automatic enrolment. It is among several tools available on the regulator’s website.
  2. The regulator has launched a new national radio campaign to call on employers to plan ahead and has posted a series of bite-sized videos to help business advisers with automatic enrolment on YouTube.
  3. The master trust assurance framework was designed to evidence the key quality features set out in the regulator’s code of practice for DC schemes.
  4. ICAEW has published guidance (PDF, 538kb, 36 pages) on applying the assurance framework to occupational DC master trusts. ICAEW promotes, develops and supports over 144,000 chartered accountants worldwide. ICAEW provides qualifications and professional development, shares knowledge, insight and technical expertise, and protects the quality and integrity of the accountancy and finance profession.
  5. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. We have objectives to: protect members’ benefits; reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

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