TPR information requests rise 133% in 5 years

The number of information requests The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has sent to pension schemes increased by 133 per cent in the five years to June 2019 compared to the previous five-year period.

There were almost 1,000 requests for information over the past 10 years, with the highest number of requests coming in 2018, when there was 162.

The data, obtained by Herbert Smith Freehills in a freedom of information request, revealed that TPR is increasing seeking information from trustees, sponsors and providers.

The requests mostly refer to pension scheme administration, funding and legislative compliance.

Commenting on the findings, Herbert Smith Freehill employment, pensions and incentives practice partner, Samantha Brown, said: "Requests from the regulator can be wide ranging and can require information to be provided within a very short time-frame.

“Whether it's trustees, sponsors or other organisations asked to provide information, parties should engage co-operatively as failure to comply with a Section 72 request, without reasonable grounds, is a criminal offence which may result in an unlimited fine."

Herbert Smith Freehill's request also found that TPR is increasingly likely to take action after requesting the scheme data.

Between 2010 and 2016, there were no enforcement actions from the regulator, however in both 2017 and 2018 there were 4 instances of TPR taking action.

This included a £124,000 fine and criminal conviction for former BHS owner Dominic Chappell, as “his refusal to comply with the Section 72 requests caused significant delay to TPR’s task”.

“It made their work significantly more difficult,” according to Judge Christine Henson QC.

Brown added: “Anyone who receives a Section 72 notice should review the scope of the request carefully and consider early on whether an extension may be needed.

“Relevant information and documents should be reviewed to check whether any should be withheld or redacted, for example, on privilege or data protection grounds.

“The cost of complying with a Section 72 notice can quickly rack up and trustees and sponsors should check whether they may also be on the hook for costs incurred by their advisers and service providers."

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