Almost every active member of the Oxfordshire County Council Pension Fund has received a 2017-18 annual benefit statement following action by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
This is a significant improvement compared to 2014-15 when no active member of the fund received one.
TPR has published a regulatory intervention report outlining how it worked with the fund’s scheme manager to improve the fund’s governance and administration.
In September 2015, the scheme manager sent TPR a breach of law report to say no annual statements had been issued to members for 2014-15.
This was the start of a three year improvement programme that saw 50% of statements issued the following year and three quarters (77%) for 2016-17.
Although improvements were being made, TPR was not content with the rate of progress and in May 2018 issued a Warning Notice to the scheme manager. This required the manager to take all necessary actions to issue the statements for 2017-18 and agree a plan with TPR to prevent the issue reoccurring in future years. An Improvement Notice was issued in August and by the end of 2018, 99% of statements due for 2017-18 had been issued.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, said: “Our role is to make workplace pensions work and we will act where standards are not met.
“Oxfordshire’s inability to issue benefit statements in 2015 was due to poor data and the challenges they faced to improve it. We clearly set out our expectations and worked with them to improve their data. This has resulted in the vast majority of the fund’s 20,000 active members receiving the benefit statements they are entitled to.”
Where a scheme manager does not hold accurate and complete member data TPR expects them to produce a measurable data improvement plan. They should have appropriate controls in place and use their powers to manage employers who are not co-operative in fulfilling their obligations to the scheme.
Notes for editors
- Public service pension schemes have to provide annual benefit statements to active members within five months of the end of the scheme’s financial year, usually 31 August. It is the scheme manager’s responsibility to do this.
- The scheme manager and other parties have a duty to report breaches of law to TPR where they believe this is of material significance.
- TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of TPR’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).