2.3m pension members in schemes with poor data

More than two million (2.3) pension members remain in schemes where the common data standards are not measured or significant improvements are needed to meet a level of at least 95% of present accurate data, according to research by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Its Scheme record-keeping report, which looked at a sample of 583 pension schemes, found that 9.2 million members of trust-based pension schemes are in plans with a common data score of 96% of present accurate data or greater.

TPR has set targets for schemes to meet ‘common data’ standards by the end of 2012, which include measuring data quality and maintaining accurate records. These standards concern name, date of birth and national insurance number, which are needed to identify scheme members.

The research highlighted that measuring ‘conditional’ data, comprising more detailed data such as contribution history, date of leaving and other items needed to accurately calculate a member’s benefit, is less of a priority for schemes.

This was particularly evident in larger trust-based schemes, where, of the 42% that have not generated a conditional data score, 29% said it was not a priority. Half of small trust-based schemes that do not measure this score were not aware of the requirement to do so.

The research also found:

  • Members of large and medium trust-based schemes are more likely to be in a scheme that measures the common data score, and achieve a score of at least 95%, compared with members in small trust-based schemes.
  • Over 90% of schemes that have measured their common data more than once have registered an improvement between their first and most recent measurement.
  • Overall, across all scheme types, approximately a fifth of scheme members are in schemes achieving a conditional data score greater than 90%, which is broadly unchanged from the 2012 report.
  • The majority of those schemes that have not completed the first measurement of their conditional data said they planned to do this by the end of the year. However, a similar finding was produced in 2012, with the results suggesting that this has not been done.

Louise Hallard (pictured), policy lead for DC, governance and administration at TPR, said: “The latest research results show there is still some way to go for schemes to achieve high standards across the board.

“This will become increasingly important for members of DC schemes with the introduction of automatic transfers by government.

“We are currently undertaking a detailed review to establish whether schemes have met targets for keeping accurate records, and the standards set out in our guidance. If we find breaches of pensions legislation, we can take action including issuing improvement notices and financial penalties.”

TPR intends to publish the results of its detailed record-keeping review towards the end of 2013. It will also update its record-keeping guidance to reflect the main findings of the report.