UK - More than 50 pension schemes in breach of the Pensions Act were named and shamed this week in a tough new move by industry watchdog OPRA.
The 56 pension schemes named so far are guilty of misdemeanours such as late payments of contributions, late filing of accounts and failure to obtain a MFR valuation within a pre-determined time scale.
OPRA hopes that its naming and shaming strategy will give the incentive to scheme members to become aware of their employer’s obligations and start to monitor them more closely.
OPRA spokesman Nick Edmans said: “We hope that this will empower members to take more of an interest in the running of their scheme. They will now be able to find out that their pension scheme has not been paying contributions or submitting accounts on time.
“Armed with this information it might encourage members to take pro-active steps such as pushing to become a member nominated trustee or checking to see if there is anything else that is not up to scratch.”
Among the schemes who are exposed on the regulator’s website are the NHS pensions scheme and the Teachers AVC scheme. Both schemes are guilty of later payments of employer contributions and are set to receive fines of £300 and £275 respectively.
Other pension scheme culprits revealed by OPRA include the Barclays Brokers Retirement Benefits Scheme that was fined £1500 for late accounts and TNT Express Worldwide (UK) Retirement Benefits Scheme whose employer – TNT Airways – was fined £100 for a late contribution offence.
The naming of non-compliant schemes has been forced on OPRA so they would not infringe various acts of legislation and to ensure that the determination process becomes more transparent.
Edmans added: “This is a preparation for the Freedom of Information Act and will also enable us to comply better with aspects of the Human Rights Act. Where we were before, everything was behind closed doors and nobody knew who had been fined or for what.”
Currently only determinations made against pension schemes after June are listed on the site with rulings added on a daily basis or after any review or appeal on the decision has been heard and finalised.
All the determinations can now be viewed on the OPRA website when the new system goes live. The web address is http://www.opra.gov.uk/determinations/index.shtml.
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