Significant administrative problems at Now: Pensions, affecting more than a quarter of a million people have been largely resolved says the Pensions Regulator.
TPR says the provider and its trustees have largely complied with the improvement notice and third-party notice served on them.
In April 2016, the pension contributions of almost one in three of the master trust’s members – an estimated £18m affecting over 265,000 people – had not been collected, and there were ongoing problems both with the collection of contributions and with ensuring the correct amounts were invested for members.
TPR is now satisfied that Now: Pensions and its trustee have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the notices. The regulator says there are still some cases of outstanding contributions, these largely relate to instances when employers have become insolvent.
Now: Pensions is working proactively to address these cases, and TPR is continuing to monitor the progress being made.
The provider has now moved all of its members onto a purpose-built platform, improved the member data it holds, and has rebuilt the data records of more than 350,000 of its members. All of the contributions due to these members have now been collected and invested.
Now: Pensions is making good any investment loss suffered by members because of its administrative failures. Where losses to member benefits have occurred due to employers becoming insolvent, it will provide compensation if the losses have been caused by it.
The trustee and Now: Pensions have also put systems and processes in place to monitor contributions, and TPR is continuing to work closely with the trustee to ensure that it is correctly reporting the late collection of contributions from employers, as it is legally required to do.
TPR fined the trustee £50,000 in November 2017 for failing to ensure that all employee and employer contributions were collected and invested promptly over the period from 6 April 2015 to 8 August 2017, and a further £20,000 in January 2018 for failing to keep some members properly informed.
TPR executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish says: “When we launched our investigation into Now, the master trust had significant administration problems in the way it was handling data.
“In particular, its failure to collect contributions was causing problems for employers and the pension pots of members were not growing as they should have been. This was unacceptable.
“Pension schemes, including master trusts, should be in no doubt that we will act if we become concerned about the way they are being run. We will not accept failings that put members’ savings at risk.”