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TPR makes direct contact with more schemes than ever before

The Pensions Regulator explains what it’s been up to lately and prior to the pandemic, to ensure it is safeguarding schemes.

'We have fined a firm £350,000 for failing to fully comply with AE duties'
'We have fined a firm £350,000 for failing to fully comply with AE duties'

Our recently published 2019-20 annual report and accounts demonstrates how our clear, quick, tough approach meant we were in an excellent position to adjust to the challenges of COVID-19 at the end of the financial year.


Our organisational structure and culture provided a solid base for our swift and decisive response to the pandemic, enabling us to continue to support those we regulate to manage risks and protect pension savers.


This year has also seen us ensure more people save into workplace pensions, that more is being contributed into workplace pensions and that there has been a reduction in recovery plan lengths across defined benefit schemes. We have also ensured better protection for the 16 million savers through our master trust authorisation process.


Our report also shows we have successfully driven up standards across schemes, ensuing they are well governed, through our supervisory approach. We have been in direct contact with more schemes than ever, creating strong, two-way relationships allowing us to monitor closely, clearly outline expectations and prevent problems developing in the first place.


This year’s four regulatory initiatives saw us starting our engagement with 1,200 schemes on issues such as scheme funding and record-keeping - driving up standards further and better protecting savers’ interests. We are pleased that most schemes have welcomed our engagement and responded by improving standards.


Our annual report highlights include:

  • Completing the national roll out of automatic enrolment duties for employers with 98 percent of eligible job holders - more than 10.2 million people - now in a qualifying scheme.
  • 38 master trusts have been authorised meaning 16 million members and £38.5bn are in better-protected schemes.
  • Direct contact with more schemes than ever through our supervisory approach - covering about two-thirds of UK memberships.
  • Deficit repair contributions up £11.4bn and average length of recovery plans re-submitted to TPR, falling from 7.5 years to 7.1 years.
  • Initiating four regulatory initiatives, driving up standards in record-keeping, reducing recovery plan lengths and balancing deficit repair contributions and investment governance.
  • A rapid and controlled response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring our staff’s safety, continuation of our strategic recovery objectives and providing quick and clear guidance to the pensions industry and stakeholders to enable them to deal with the crisis.
  • Use of powers: Former charity chairman Patrick McLarry received a five-year jail sentence - the longest prison term TPR has secured - for a £250,000 fraud. A firm was also fined £350,000 for failing to fully comply with AE duties.

Looking ahead, post COVID-19, we will be focusing resources on supporting those schemes that need our ongoing attention, including those affected by the pandemic. We’re confident we will be able to further drive up standards when as we look to return to our full supervisory evaluation cycle later in the year.


Our corporate plan, published earlier this summer, sets out TPR’s priorities for the year ahead adjusted to reflect the realities of how the COVID-19 has changed the pensions landscape.


The plan shows how TPR will continue to drive up standards in workplace pensions, tighten its regulatory grip and keep saver protection at the heart of its work.

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