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Pensions regulator issues nearly 30,000 notices over auto-enrolment breaches

Magnifying glass in front of an open newspaper with paper houses. Concept of rent, search, purchase real estate.The Pensions Regulator has issued a record number of compliance notices against employers for breaching auto-enrolment rules, according to its quarterly enforcement bulletin.

An update published today says that between April and June the watchdog issued 27,219 compliance notices, which is the most in any three-month period.

The bulletin also notes how several different powers have been used for the first time by TPR’s case teams dealing with pension scams, scheme valuations and auto-enrolment.

Production orders, which require institutions to hand over evidentially admissible financial information on individuals or organisations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, were used successfully as part of an investigation into pension fraud.

This was the first time TPR secured these orders that required a bank to hand over statements and other details of the accounts linked to the trustees of a pension scheme, which were needed for the ongoing criminal investigation.

TPR also fined a trustee that failed to complete a valuation on its DB pension scheme, using its power under section 10 of the Pensions Act 1995.

The trustee was ordered to pay a £25,000 fine after it twice failed to have the required scheme valuation completed, as is required every three years.

In June TPR prosecuted a recruitment company, its directors and a number of its senior staff after they worked together to illegally opt-out workers who had been auto-enrolled into a workplace pension scheme.

This was the first time TPR has prosecuted offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. Each of the defendants has pleaded guilty to the charges.

TPR’s frontline regulation executive director Nicola Parish says: “We’re using powers for the first time and working closely with other organisations to better protect members of pension schemes.”

MPs on the work and pensions select committee have been critical of TPR’s approach to regulation, such as its handling of the collapse of Carillion.

Former pensions minister Steve Webb said TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb’s decision to step down as head of the organisation in February 2019 was due to the “personal vilification” from the committee when it questioned her.

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