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Pension tracing website database

FOI reference - FOI-29

Date - 2 August 2022


Please can you send me the database that is used for the pension tracing website. I require this for a project and would also like to correct some of the data in there I have found to be incorrect.


Duty to confirm or deny whether we hold the information requested

We are the regulator for work-based pension schemes with more than one registered member. Any work-based pension scheme registered with HMRC, with more than one member must by law register with us. Therefore, if a scheme falls into this category (ie a work-based pension scheme registered with HMRC with more than one member) then it would fall under our remit as The Pensions Regulator.

In relation to the data supplied to Pension Tracing Service, the data itself is provided to The Pensions Regulator via the scheme return process. For some large schemes, such as master trusts, via the mega multi-employer process. Each scheme is responsible for keeping their details up to date. The information available via the Pensions Tracing Service website, is simply a reflection of what scheme representatives have submitted to us — which we are required to keep a record / register of, in that form, by law.

Individuals can use the Pensions Tracing Service to locate contact details for their personal pension scheme membership. However, there is not a legal gateway to disclose the entire register to an individual.

Information we are not able to supply

Published Data: Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA)

The Pension Tracing Service has advised you that the data used online as part of their pension tracing website originates from a database provided by The Pensions Regulator. For this data, The Pensions Regulator is exempt from providing this data as part of the database under section 21 of the FoIA as it is accessible within the public domain.

However, I understand that your request may also involve further details on this data that has not been made available by the Pension Tracing Service.

Unpublished data: Section 44 of the FoIA

As we have been given strong powers to demand documents and other information from trustees, employers and others, those powers are also balanced by restrictions on how we disclose the information provided to us.

The information held on our register is information we receive in the exercise of our statutory functions and, where it has not been made available in the public domain, is considered ‘restricted information’.

Restricted information is defined at section 82(4) of the PA04 as:

‘information obtained by the regulator in the exercise of its functions which relates to the business or other affairs of any person’.

Under section 82(5) of the PA04 it is a criminal offence to disclose such information except as permitted under that Act.

Whilst the FoIA is based on the presumption of releasing information, section 44(1)(a) of the FoIA provides an absolute exemption to the requirement to disclose any information if its disclosure is prohibited by or under any enactment. In this case, section 82 of the PA04 prohibits disclosure except in limited prescribed situations, which, unfortunately, your request does not meet. As such, we are unable to disclose the register, extracts from the register or confirm whether a specific pension scheme is listed on the register. This exemption is absolute and does not require a public interest assessment be undertaken.

You have stated in your request there are errors in the contact information held for some of the pension schemes. However, whilst we hold this data, TPR does not control the content of the data itself. The content is input by the individual pension schemes. If there is an error in the data, we would recommend that you address this directly with the pension scheme.

I note the comment you have made regarding the potential issues faced by people trying to find an old scheme. This issue is likely to be reduced when pensions dashboards are introduced, as this places a duty on pension schemes to look to actively identify pension holders from their data. There is a helpful page on our website headed ‘Pensions dashboards: initial guidance’ which provides an overview as to the duties of pension schemes and what may happen if they fail to comply with their new pensions dashboards duties.