Unpaid pension contribution notices almost triple in Q3

The number of unpaid pension contribution notices increased by 191.4 per cent in Q3 compared to the previous quarter, rising to 1,026, according to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

The regulator’s quarterly Auto-enrolment (AE) Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin also noted that compliance notices had been on the rise, with the 15,420 issued in the three months to September being 17 per cent higher than in the previous quarter.

TPR took the opportunity to remind all employers of their AE responsibilities.

TPR director of AE, Mel Charles, said: “Employers may have seen their business change because of Covid-19, but their pension duties have not.

“While we issued easements at the start of the pandemic, we closely monitored compliance and took action where necessary. We continued to target employers who committed serious breaches and where staff contributions were at immediate risk.”

He added that the majority of employers are paying their contributions in full and on time and the regulator not seen any unusual increase in reports of late payments by pension schemes, but warned employers that failure to fulfil their own duties “may lead to legal action”.

TPR saw a 6 per cent increase in the overall use of its AE powers between July and September compared with the previous quarter.

The regulator confirmed that it used its formal section 72 information gathering powers 30 times in Q3, obtained 15 High Court orders for the production of specified materials and issued two section 89 regulatory intervention reports.

It also issued its first ever Proceeds of Crime confiscation order during the period, having brought a hearing to Salisbury Crown Court that resulted in convicted pension fraudster, Patrick McLarry, being ordered to repay £286,852 of stolen savings to the Yateley Industries for the Disabled Limited Pension and Assurance Scheme.

A separate hearing in October, following the end of the third quarter, saw TPR secure a second confiscation order for a fraudster who defrauded a scheme of £292,000.

TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, said: “Our two recent court successes show that we’ll use every weapon at our disposal to ensure pension criminals do not benefit from their crimes at the expense of hardworking savers.

"Our enforcement work will continue to see criminals punished, but we also expect industry to help ensure savers’ money isn’t stolen in the first place. All providers, trustees and administrators should commit to safeguarding savers by joining our campaign and pledging to combat pensions scams.”

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