Auto-enrolment - The good, the bad and the ugly

It may all have gone a little quiet from Workie, the giant furry creature who wandered around parks trying to raise awareness for auto-enrolment, however the monstrous task to make sure businesses are still complying with their duties is still high on the government’s priority list.

The good
Early figures on participation in workplace pension schemes since April’s increase to contribution rates indicates that employees have taken it ‘in their stride’. Figures from the Local Government Association and Local Government Pensions Committee found that only 35 people opted out of their schemes between the 6th April and 5th July 2018. As of the 5th July these two schemes had 324 pension members.[1] Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said that evidence from the public sector was consistent with his firm’s experiences since April and that early evidence implied that employees were not planning a mass exodus from their workplace pension.   

The bad
The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) latest Compliance and enforcement quarterly bulletin found that they are using their powers more than ever. The April to June 2018 report shows that the TPR used their powers 43,700 times to tackle non-compliance across the UK, compared to 35,862 times in Q1 of this year![2]

Here’s the breakdown of the powers used:

Power Used

Q1 Total

Overall Total (since July 2012)

Fixed penalty notices



Escalating penalty notices



Compliance notices



Unpaid contribution notices



The report also confirmed that the TPR used their powers to take action against trustees 25 times for failing to complete a scheme return on time and 31 times to gather information.

The ugly   

The number of complaints received by the pensions watchdog accusing employers of coercing staff to opt out of auto-enrolment rose to 64 between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018 – a 68% increase on the previous year! Although this increase is worrying, due to the impact it could have on an employee’s retirement, it’s a tiny amount in comparison with the number of employees who have been auto-enrolled and stayed in the scheme.[3]

And finally…

If you have any further questions on the above please contact your Aspira Corporate Adviser or call the office on 0800 048 0150.



[1] Early evidence shows that workers have taken increased pensions contributions ‘in their stride’,, viewed 22/08/18

[2] TPR used enforcement powers 43,700 times to tackle non-compliance in Q2,, viewed 22/08/18

[3] Increasing reports of employers coaxing staff to opt out of pensions,, viewed 22/08/18

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