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More trustees take action to protect savers after TPR steps up communications

Ref: PN20-07

Issued: Thursday 20 February 2020

More trustees are negotiating higher employer pension contributions following increased communications from The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

A report published today shows more than half of lay and professional trustees surveyed said letters from TPR reminding them about their responsibilities helped them ensure the pension scheme is treated fairly.

While the increased communications are ongoing, early indications show they are prompting a high proportion of trustees to take action to protect savers.

In one example outlined in TPR’s quarterly compliance and enforcement bulletin, TPR’s communication to a scheme - where payments to shareholders had been prioritised over deficit repair payments - prompted the employer to agree a £15 million payment into the scheme.

The communications are part of a series of regulatory initiatives to drive up governance standards by directing trustees to take specific action based on risks that have been identified.

Mike Birch, TPR’s Director of Supervision, said: “We are writing to hundreds of trustees to remind them of their duties and make it clear what we expect of them. It is early days but we are seeing encouraging results with a very high proportion of schemes responding positively to our communications, which is driving better outcomes for savers. Where we don’t see an appropriate response we are engaging directly with trustees and employers to address scheme risks.

“Communicating directly to large numbers of schemes means we are helping to make pensions safer for savers in all sizes and type of scheme.”

So far, TPR has launched four regulatory initiatives, targeting the following areas:

  • Fair treatment (pension scheme contributions versus dividends)
  • Lengthy recovery plans
  • Investment governance
  • Record-keeping

TPR will also be carrying out regulatory initiatives to check trustee levels of knowledge and understanding. Trustees who fail to meet appropriate levels of understanding will be expected to improve or appoint an independent trustee. TPR may take action where trustees fail to improve in response to our regulatory initiatives.

Other bulletin highlights include:

  • Last month TPR prosecuted a third accountant for deliberately lying about completing automatic enrolment duties on behalf of an employer. He incurred fines and costs of £5,000 for the offence.
  • Since the start of automatic enrolment: a total of 179,801 compliance notices, 105,556 fixed penalty notices, 32,157 escalating penalty notices and 55,266 unpaid contribution notices have been issued.
  • In the last quarter, 60 inspection notices have been issued as part of TPR’s compliance validation inspections, bringing the total issued so far to 1,828.

Notes for editors

  1. Regulatory initiatives are in addition to relationship and event supervision and affect the largest number of schemes.
  2. TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to 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 TPR’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

Press contacts

Ciara Bridge-Butler

Media Officer (AE)
01273 662018

Matt Adams

Senior Media and Parliamentary Manager
01273 662086

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