Occupational Pensions

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 22nd February 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Altmann Baroness Altmann Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what reporting they require from (1) pension providers, (2) employers, and (3) payroll operators, to verify the accuracy of auto-enrolment pension contributions; and what steps they (a) have taken, or (b) plan to take, to ensure that pension contribution records are routinely (i) checked, and (ii) reconciled, for auto-enrolment data errors each year.

Photo of Baroness Stedman-Scott Baroness Stedman-Scott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Automatic enrolment has been a great success, with over 10 million employees enrolled and more than 1.7 million employers having met their duties to date. Government has put in place a robust, proportionate compliance framework. This is administered by The Pensions Regulator (TPR), and includes detailed regulatory guidance about how to comply with the law. An employer is required to select a qualifying pension scheme; enrol qualifying staff into that scheme, and deduct any contributions payable under automatic enrolment.

Employers as well as the trustees or managers of pension schemes must keep certain records including details of the pension contributions payable in each relevant pay reference period by an employer to the scheme. This includes the contributions due on the employer’s behalf and deductions made from an individual’s earnings. As part of the Regulator’s guidance, employers and pension scheme trustees or managers must hold information about payment schedules and contributions for six years, except for opt-outs which must be kept for a minimum of four years.

TPR has published codes of practice on its website setting out how trustees of defined contribution pension schemes and managers of personal pension schemes should monitor the payment of contributions, provide information to help members check their contributions and report material payment failures to TPR. As part of TPR’s codes of practice and guidance, there is a requirement for scheme providers to have sufficient monitoring processes in place. This includes having a risk based approach to monitor employers who should have in place appropriate internal controls to ensure correct and timely payment of contributions due to meet their employer duties. If the trustee or manager becomes aware that this is not the case, or that the employer does not appear to be taking adequate steps to remedy the situation, for example where there are repetitive and regular payment failures, then it must be reported to TPR. The responsibility lies with the employer to ensure their payroll processes are correct whether in house or outsourced. TPR’s compliance checks include checks of employer payroll processes and detailed reviews of payroll software. TPR does hold payment failure reports from pension providers but these do not necessarily represent data errors.

In addition, TPR publishes regular assessments of its automatic enrolment compliance and enforcement activities as well as an annual commentary and analysis report, both of which are available on its website.

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