TPR publishes scaled back enforcement figures update amid Covid-19

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published a scaled back Compliance and Enforcement update, revealing a slight dip in its use of automatic enrolment (AE) enforcement powers.

The figures, which cover the period from January to March 2020 and therefore do not reflect the powers used following the introduction of easements in light of Covid-19, have been published in lieu of the regulator’s usual quarterly Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin.

Whilst the bulletin would typically include case studies designed to help readers benefit from lessons learned and avoid non-compliance, these have been omitted in light of the ongoing crisis.

The regulator explained that instead, it would remain focused on helping providers, pension schemes and sponsoring employers to meet their duties while navigating the current challenges.

TPR director of automatic enrolment, Mel Charles, explained: “The protection of savers is our top priority and maintaining high employer compliance and driving up governance standards is key to that.

“These figures show the action we have taken to ensure employers and trustees meet their responsibilities.

“They are also a result of our proportionate and risk-based approach to enforcement, an approach that is now enabling us to respond the challenges that Covid-19 is bringing to bear on savers and employers alike.”

TPR used its AE powers 7.4 per cent less (35,174 times) in the first three months of 2020 than in the previous quarter, when it reported using these powers 37,990 times.

However, this represents a 39.6 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2019 (25,198).

Since the start of AE, TPR used its powers a total of 410,649 times, through a total of 190,562 compliance notices, 115,459 fixed penalty notices, 35,717 escalating penalty notices and a further 65,457 unpaid contribution notices.

During the first quarter of 2020, a total of 98 schemes requested a review of a penalty notice.

However, just 22 of these were defended, and only one was revoked, substituted or varied as a result of the tribunal, compared to 44 which were confirmed.

This same period also saw TPR appoint 91 trustees to ensure proper administration, and issued 52 mandatory penalty notices for no or non-compliant chairs statements.

TPR stated that the next bulletin, to be published in Summer, is expected to reflect the “proportionate and risk-based approach” taken in light of the pressures employers and trustees are currently facing.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association recently published a template to help defined contribution (DC) scheme trustees in producing their annual chair’s statement however.

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