Pensions Regulator launches pension scheme list consultation

The Pensions Regulator (tPR) recently issued a new consultation document entitled ‘Helping small and micro employers identify a pension scheme for automatic enrolment’.

By the standards of recent consultations in the pension’s space this is a rather small document and the response period only runs for a very short period of time (closing on 1 December). This is because the consultation subject matter on this occasion is relatively straightforward.

The thrust of the document is that there are many small and micro-sized employers yet to reach their auto-enrolment (AE) staging date and many of these (and we are talking hundreds of thousands here) do not intend to take advice when the time comes. The regulator is therefore concerned, and wants to ensure that all employers are aware of — and able to access — a suitable pension scheme. The proposal is therefore that tPR issues a listing of suitable pension schemes available to employers for AW purposes. Yet this listing could be quite short given the criteria of universal access that will be applied.

The consultation says: ‘We are aware of 30–40 providers who offer a scheme for automatic enrolment. Of these, a much smaller number of schemes have indicated they will not reject employers on the basis of size or low value. Even fewer schemes have indicated they will accept all employers who approach them.’

So it remains to be seen how many (or perhaps how few) schemes will make the final listing.

The consultation does however make it clear that: ‘Employers will still need to ensure that the scheme they choose is suitable for them and their particular workforce.’

This is surely the nub of the matter. Employers have no choice but to comply with the auto-enrolment regulations, but surely the savvy employer will want to spend his/her money wisely, and to produce the best outcome for both the business and their workforce?

So if you are an employer that wants to make an informed choice and achieve a return on your investment, we would strongly suggest that you seek advice and guidance at the earliest opportunity.