Auto enrolment: smooth sailing so far

Smooth sailing
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Francois Badenhorst
Deputy editor
BusinessZone and UK Business Forums
Brought to you by
The Pensions Regulator
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Over the past week, we’ve run a survey to ask UKBF members about their auto enrolment (AE) journey so far. Unsurprisingly, UKBF members’ exhibited a strong DIY ethos on matters of AE.

Of the respondents, just under half had already reached their staging date; the rest are still awaiting their date.

Despite this neat split, the vast majority planned to tackle their duties alone; only one-fifth of those surveyed said they have or will approach an outside expert for advice. The few that indicated an intention to approach an adviser selected their accountant.

For those going it alone, the online duties checker is a TPR service that’s available for free. The checker is an online service that helps you to figure out what your  AE obligations are as an employer. Respondents to the UKBF survey expressed unfamiliarity with the duties checker. Less than a quarter of those staged said they used the service.

Cost was a common reason indicated for the pronounced predilection of going alone. The good news for AE has been the vast majority found the process easy, if a bit cumbersome. “I thought that as this is a government led procedure I ought to be able to complete the relevant forms and so no reason for needing advice,” said one respondent.

NEST, the master trust scheme set up by the government, was directly named by respondents as their preferred choice. The cost and ease were given as the main reason. There was a very strong correlation between those not using an advisor and the selection of NEST as their provider. “I just chose Nest as the easiest option and in theory as non-profit making, it should be the best value,” one respondent said.

The strong attraction to NEST has been noted on BusinessZone before. As Steve Brice of LP Auto Enrolment Solutions suggested in a recent article: “NEST is not a government scheme, but was designed at outset with a Public Service Obligation to accept all employers who wished to use it to comply with the legislation. Its brief was not to be a provider of choice for all employers who need to comply with the legislation.

“More than one pension provider will currently accept all employers and many will not charge the employer for the privilege, you just need to know where to find them. Each has its own quirks and one may be better suited to you than another.”

Research doesn’t necessarily require potentially expensive external advice. TPR has a raft of online resources available, including a list of schemes that meet the standards set by their master trust assurance framework, including schemes that will still accept everyone.

The best place to start when thinking about how to choose your pension provider and scheme is The Pensions Regulator’s website. Make sure you know your duties – their online duties checker will ask you a few questions based on your individual employer circumstances and tell you the tasks you need to complete and by when. Most employers are able to check their duties in around 5 minutes (you will need your PAYE number to hand). Visit our website to find out more.

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