TPR fines trustee of NOW: Pensions and sets deadline by which problems must be fixed

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has given the trustee and trust manager of NOW: Pensions a deadline to fix long-running issues with the pension scheme.

TPR has required the master trust to act to resolve persistent administrative failings, over a number of years, which have led to some scheme members’ savings not being collected from employers and invested.

TPR has fined the trustee (NOW: Pension Trustee Limited) a total of £70,000 for its failings and has issued it with an Improvement Notice. A related notice, called a Third Party Notice, has been issued to the trust manager (NOW: Pensions Ltd, or NPL).

The notices direct that the trustee and NPL must complete a series of steps to rectify their failure to remedy the administrative issues. These steps must be taken by specified deadlines over a number of weeks and months. Both the trustee and NPL have indicated that they are prioritising resolving these issues.

The trustee has assured TPR that there is no risk to any of the funds that NOW: Pensions has collected on behalf of members. The trustee and NPL have also agreed to set up a scheme of compensation for members who have been affected.

The issuing of the notices and the fines are part of a package of measures TPR has used to ensure that NPL and the trustee tackle the issues.

In February 2017, with the consent of the trustee, TPR required the trustee to commission an independent skilled person’s report into the scheme’s ongoing issues. Following the issue of the report in June 2017, TPR continued to engage with NPL and the trustee to ensure steps were taken to address the shortcomings identified.

As part of this engagement, TPR welcomed the trustees’ decision to voluntarily withdraw from the master trust assurance list in July 2017. TPR was also pleased by the trustee and NPL’s decision to appoint an independent trustee, Dalriada, to the trustee board in October 2017 to assist with driving the improvements required.

TPR issued the Improvement Notice and Third Party Notice, to ensure that the trustee and NPL take key steps to resolve the issues by set deadlines. If, without good reason, the steps are not completed on time, they could be fined again.

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.

Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, said: “This package of measures, together with those voluntarily taken by the trustee, should ensure that the issues with NOW: Pensions which have persisted for so long are finally resolved.

“We will continue to monitor progress and will issue further fines if necessary to ensure that the trustee and NPL focus on resolving the issues as swiftly as possible.

“Trustees, sponsors and administrators should be in no doubt that we will act if we are concerned about the way schemes are being run.”

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