TPR AE enforcement figures rise following pandemic easements

The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) use of its auto-enrolment (AE) enforcement powers returned to pre-pandemic levels following the easements introduced to support employers through the early months of Covid-19.

The regulator’s latest Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin showed that the total use of its enforcement powers between January and June 2021 increased to 77,032.

This compares to 41,398 between July and December 2020 and 73,164 in the six months that preceded the Covid-19 pandemic (October 2019 to March 2020).

In the first half of 2021, TPR issued 35,087 Compliance Notices, up from 25,783 in the second half of 2020.

It also sent out 11,921 Unpaid Contribution Notices during this period, up from 4,090 between July and December 2020.

There were 22,542 Fixed Penalty Notices issued in H1 2021, up from 8,445 in the preceding six months, and 7,407 Escalating Penalty Notices were issued, compared to 2,964 in H2 2020.

TPR noted that compliance with the law, including maintaining pension contributions, had remained “high” throughout the pandemic.

The bulletin also revealed that TPR’s use of its frontline regulations powers had risen, with the total number of statutory powers used increasing from 268 in H2 2020 to 288 in H1 2021.

Commenting on the figures, TPR director of AE, Mel Charles, said: “We have been clear with employers throughout the pandemic that they continue to have AE duties and the majority have done the right thing for their staff despite the challenges. 

“While we introduced measures in the early months of lockdown to allow struggling employers more time to achieve compliance and avoid being unduly fined, figures published today demonstrate we have continued to robustly protect savers, using our powers where necessary to protect savers.” 

Charles urged employers to ensure they plan ahead, including financial planning, so they continue to make the correct pensions contributions for their staff without the need for TPR to take enforcement action.

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