TPR launches consultation on dashboards compliance and enforcement policy

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a consultation on its dashboards compliance and enforcement policy, which outlines the regulator’s expectations for pension schemes, and its approach to regulating dashboard obligations.

The consultation follows the passing of new legislation enabling TPR to issue third parties with compliance notices, as well as fines of up to £50,000 for each breach if they do not comply.

This is alongside other new powers to fine trustees and managers in the case of non-compliance with dashboard regulations, including an option to issue penalties of up to £5,000 to individuals and up to £50,000 in other cases.

The consultation, which closes on 24 February, therefore aims to provide further clarity on TPR's approach in the event of a breach, illustrating how TPR’s approach might translate into practice for a range of breaches.

In monitoring compliance and taking action, TPR stated that it will focus on the behaviours or breaches it considers pose the greatest risk to a savers' ability to receive an accurate picture of their pensions, and make appropriate decisions.

"Broadly, the more serious the matter the more likely it is that action will follow," it stated. "Consequently, breaches of the law that are persistent, intentional, wilful or indicate dishonesty are likely to be a higher priority for us."

In particular, TPR confirmed that it plans to focus strongly on connection compliance, including but not limited to schemes not connecting by their statutory deadline, only connecting part of their membership to the system, or failing to connect in line with the Money and Pensions Service's (Maps) standards.

The regulator also said that it would be "interested" where a scheme is failing to find a pension for a saver when they should, and when a scheme returns data to the wrong saver, or when the data returned is not sufficiently recent.

TPR will be putting in place a framework for monitoring and identifying risk of non-compliance, using multiple sources of evidence, including regular data from the dashboard system run by Maps.

The final policy is expected to be published in spring 2023, ahead of the first schemes' dashboard deadlines in August 2023.

TPR executive director of regulator policy, advice and analysis, David Fairs, commented: "We are aware that the months ahead will be challenging for the pensions industry as they prepare to meet their dashboards duties.

“We will be supporting them by writing to all schemes at least 12 months ahead of their connection deadline to help them understand what they need to do by when, in accordance with our published guidance.

"We will be pragmatic in our approach to regulating dashboards compliance and will not be looking to simply issue fines. However, it is not acceptable for schemes and their administrators to do nothing, and we'll take a dim view of wilful or reckless non-compliance.

"We have been talking to industry for several years about their obligations and schemes should already be looking at their data management, internal governance and how they will meet their obligations.

“Overall, the long-term focus when developing our compliance and enforcement policy has been how to best support the future experience for savers when using dashboards. We want to empower savers to feel confident accessing a dashboard and taking control of their long-term savings."

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