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'We will take action against employers failing to pay into pensions' – TPR

Ref: PN17-63
Monday 13 November 2017

More employers have been ordered to pay missing pension contributions, according to new data released by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) today.

TPR has published its latest compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin (PDF, 67kb, 14 pages) and has updated its quarterly lists which name both pension schemes and employers which TPR has taken action against.

The bulletin highlights that TPR used its powers to issue Unpaid Contributions Notices to 753 employers between July and September this year, an increase from 653 in the previous quarter. These notices require an employer to ensure all backdated contributions are paid within 28 days.

Darren Ryder, Director of Automatic Enrolment at TPR, said: “It is not enough to just comply with automatic enrolment laws by signing staff up to a scheme. Employers must also meet their duties to contribute into their employees’ pensions every month.

“Automatic enrolment has been hugely successful. There are now more than 800,000 compliant employers with more than 8.7million workers in workplace pension schemes. The vast majority of employers are doing the right thing for their staff and are meeting their pension duties.

“Clearly 753 employers not paying contributions is a very small proportion of those that are compliant – less than 0.1%. But every employer which is failing to make payments into their staff’s pension pot is one too many. We will not let employers get away with failing to meet their duties and we will take action.”

As TPR strives to be tougher on employers and pension schemes which fail to meet expected standards, the quarterly bulletin also highlights:

Automatic enrolment

  • Nearly 50% increase in the number of compliance notices issued to employers compared to the last quarter for failing to meet automatic enrolment duties.
  • 5,479 more fixed penalty notices issued in the last three months to employers for failing to comply with a statutory notice or a specific duty.
  • A total of 21,753 cases of powers being used in automatic enrolment between July and September 2017.

Pension schemes

  • 327 occasions where powers have been used, including making 209 trustee appointments.
  • High profile cases, including Tata Steel UK, as well as action to improve basic governance in pension schemes, for example issuing 37 fines to trustees for failing to complete a scheme return and 18 for failing to submit a chair’s statement.
  • How TPR is getting tougher on late DB scheme funding valuations and recovery plans by issuing improvement notices and third party notices.

TPR’s lists include 169 employers taken to court for failing to pay an escalating penalty notice for not meeting their automatic enrolment duties. The fines total more than £1.25million.

Editor's notes

  1. The quarterly compliance and enforcement bulletin includes data that 753 employers have been given an Unpaid Contributions Notice, compared to 653 in the previous quarter.
  2. If employers don’t maintain contributions we will try to find a solution with the employer in the first place, but if this fails we will issue an Unpaid Contributions Notice, which requires the employer to pay all backdated contributions within 28 days.
  3. For automatic enrolment, the published lists feature employers who have been given an escalating penalty notice for failing to comply.
  4. The first list includes four new employers who have been given EPNs for a collective total of more than £12,400, which they have paid. However, despite having paid the EPNs between July and September 2017, these employers continue to be non-compliant with their workplace pension duties. Employers named in the previous quarter who are now compliant have been removed from the list.
  5. The second list features 169 new employers who were issued with EPNs for a collective total of nearly £1,270,000. These employers failed to pay their EPNs so TPR secured court orders against them demanding payment. They include both compliant businesses, and non-compliant businesses whose cases are being reviewed over the potential for further action. TPR’s policy is that we will normally name such businesses each quarter, although exceptions may be made on a case by case basis if we believe it is appropriate. In the previous quarter, 51 employers were named after being given CCJs for a collective total of more than £425,000.
  6. For levy, the quarterly lists outline 17 fines handed to 16 schemes and totalling more than £13,623 for failing to prepare a chair statement. They also name the 20 schemes given a total of 37 fines totalling more than £12,000 for failing to submit a scheme return on time.
  7. The compliance and enforcement bulletin shows that, for automatic enrolment, 13,752 compliance notices were issued by TPR between July and September this year, compared with 9,265 in the previous quarter.
  8. TPR has published guidance on how to produce a chair’s statement (PDF, 67kb, 12 pages) to support trustees and providers. It sets out the legal requirements in relation to the chair’s statement and our expectations as to how trustees should meet them. We are not proposing any new requirements, merely seeking to clarify the expectations already set out in our code and accompanying guidance.
  9. 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); 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

James Glover 01273 662098

Matt Adams 01273 662086

pressoffice@tpr.gov.uk

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