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Trustees urged: engage early and be transparent

Ref: PN19-55

Issued: Wednesday 18 December 2019

Trustees are being urged to engage early with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) during corporate transactions and be transparent to protect savers.

The call comes as TPR publishes its latest quarterly compliance and enforcement bulletin.

The report, which shows how TPR has used its powers, includes anonymous case studies demonstrating how employers and pension schemes can avoid putting savers at risk and falling foul of the law.

The latest bulletin, covering the quarter from July to September, shows how TPR deployed its event supervision and rapid response teams to engage swiftly with trustees following the announcement that an international parent company was closing its UK operations.

TPR worked with the trustees to help them challenge employer proposals for the scheme to ensure savings were safeguarded.

TPR’s Director of Supervision, Mike Birch, said: “In the context of fast-moving corporate situations, trustees can expect us to actively engage with them and to offer support when evaluating proposals relating to their schemes.

“Engagement works best where all parties involve us early in their negotiations and work co-operatively. This approach allows trustees to test the employer’s proposals rigorously.”

As well as examples of how TPR’s supervision team operates, the bulletin also includes a warning that failure to provide information when requested will lead to enforcement action.

In the quarter, TPR issued 128 section 72 notices requesting information and two prosecutions were launched following failure to comply. One involves an employer which failed to provide information relating to automatic enrolment and the other is a director of a trustee company asked to provide information about scheme funds he invested into another company he owned. These prosecutions will be tried in the magistrates’ court which can lead to an unlimited fine.

The bulletin also highlights how TPR’s ongoing compliance validation inspections are being targeted at both large and small employers.

A series of inspections was carried out on very large employers which were among the first to comply with automatic enrolment following the introduction of the reforms in 2012. One example is a large retailer which showed how it is complying with automatic enrolment responsibilities for its 150,000 staff. TPR also worked with the employer to ensure all its processes are up to scratch and that it is correctly communicating with staff about automatic enrolment.

Other bulletin highlights include:

  • Since the start of automatic enrolment: A total of 170,544 compliance notices, 94,085 fixed penalty notices, 26,938 escalating penalty notices and 45,074 unpaid contribution notices have been issued.
  • 1,768 inspection notices have been issued as part of TPR’s compliance validation visits.
  • Thousands of small and micro employers will be reaching their re-enrolment deadlines in the coming year (2020). As of the end of September, 253,800 employers had completed their re-declaration of compliance.

Notes for editors

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)
pressoffice@tpr.gov.uk
01273 662018

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