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LGPS whistleblowing reports

FOI reference - FOI-4184
Date - 6 November 2019

Request

For each of the years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 to date, and for each of the 89 LGPS [Local Government Pension Schemes] funds and eight LGPS pools, please could you let me know:

  • how many whistleblower reports The Pensions Regulator has received
  • a breakdown of which categories these reports fell into (eg missing contributions, fraud or dishonesty, conflicts of interest)
  • how many of these reports proceeded to an investigation
  • how many of these investigations led to formal action

Response

To be clear, I have interpreted 'whistleblowing' mentioned in your request as referring specifically to non-statutory whistleblowers – ie reports made to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) by individuals who are not obligated, under section 70 of The Pensions Act 2004, to report breaches of law (statutory whistleblowers).

I can confirm that we hold the information you have requested.

Information we are able to supply

Table 1 provides the number of whistleblower reports related LGPS broken down by year and category of report. 
 

Table 1

Category of report  2015/16  2016/17  2017/18  2018/19  2019/20  Grand Total 
Administration  23  17  15  45  11  111 
Auto Enrolment  13  35 
Governance  10  17 
Investment Governance 
Late Payment of Contributions  28  20  64 
Liberation  2
Not Listed  -
Grand Total  33  28  53  88  37  239 

The category of report is an internal coding which encapsulates a number of different concerns. For example, the administration category captures, amongst other things, concerns about systems or process failure, member communications, administrative issues caused by the employer's engagement with the scheme. 

Table 2 shows that four cases were opened as a direct result of receiving a whistleblowing report.

It is important to note several points regarding the table 2:

  • your request specifies the number of whistleblowing reports which proceeded to investigation, which I have interpreted as the opening of a formal case by TPR as a direct result of receiving the whistleblowing report. In a number of circumstances we may engage with the scheme in order resolve the issue and/or gather more information before launching a formal investigation
  • a number of LGPS may have had cases ongoing when the whistleblowing report was received. This is reflective of the fact TPR obtains information from a number of different sources, such as horizon scanning, scheme returns and proactive engagement with schemes
  • multiple whistleblower reports concerning the same issue and/or scheme may be received


Table 2

Year  Cases opened as a direct result of the whistleblowing report 
2015/16 
2016/17  1
2017/18 
2018/19 
2019/20 
Grand Total 

Of the four cases which were opened following receipt of a whistleblowing report none have led to formal action, defined as the use of TPR's legal powers. Again, this should not be interpreted as no powers have ever been used against LGPS schemes.

Advice and Guidance

For a better understanding of TPR's approach to enforcement action you may find it helpful to review some of our recent regulatory intervention reports which relate to the LGPS. These can be found via the following links:

London Borough of Barnet Superannuation Fund - Regulatory intervention report

Regulatory intervention report section 89 for London Borough of Barnet Superannuation Fund

Regulatory intervention report section 89 for Oxfordshire County Council Pension Fund