UK pension watchdog The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) is taking advantage of a wider range of powers, according to its most recent quarterly compliance and enforcement bulletin. During the second quarter, the regulator’s case teams made use of several different powers for the first time in its approach to pension scams, plan valuations, and automatic enrollment.
“Our actions over the quarter demonstrate how we are continuing to develop as an organization to be clearer, quicker, and tougher” Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said in a release. “We’re using powers for the first time and working closely with other organizations to better protect members of pension schemes.”
Between April and June, TPR accessed bank statements and financial information that would otherwise have been confidential through its first use of production orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. A production order is a High Court order that requires the production of specified material. The orders required a bank to hand over what TPR said were evidentially admissible statements and other details of the accounts linked to the trustees of a pension as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
The regulator also issued its first fine under s10 of the Pensions Act 1995 against a trustee for failing to complete two plan valuations. This included issuing an improvement notice to the trustee, and a third-party notice to the employer that required the outstanding valuations to be submitted by a deadline.
Among other TPR actions during the second quarter:
- A total of 43,700 automatic enrollment enforcement powers were used, compared to 35,862 the previous quarter.
- 12,220 fixed penalty notices were issued, up from 11,156 in the previous quarter.
- 27,219 compliance notices were issued in the quarter—the most in any three-month period, and an average of one every five minutes.
- TPR used its powers to take action against trustees for failing to complete a plan return on time 25 times between April and June.
- TPR used its information-gathering powers 31 times.
- TPR appointed 162 trustees to run plans to protect members’ benefits.