Despite some misgivings when auto enrolment was first introduced in 2012 and predictions that the take up may not be as big as predicted, the scheme has confounded its critics. It has been an undoubted success, with far fewer people opting out than ever thought and to date, a total of over eight million people have now signed up for a workplace pension since its advent. Whilst this does not completely solve the pensions crisis, it does mean that millions more are now saving for retirement. Speaking about the success of auto enrolment, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion Guy Opperman said:
"Reaching this eight million figure is a formidable achievement and represents a huge number of people on the path to a more financially secure retirement."
"But we cannot be complacent and as contribution rates rise we know there is more to be done. That's why our automatic enrolment review, which will report back later this year, is so vital to the future of this life-changing policy."
Auto Enrolment Fines
However, it's not all been plain sailing and according to a new report released by The Pensions Regulator this week. In the past year, it has been revealed that they have issued a total of £12.6 million in fixed penalty notices (FPN) and escalating penalty notices (FPN) relating to auto enrolment. £7.6 million were escalating penalty notices and £5 million were fixed penalty notices, all issued under section 40 and 41 of the Pension Act. As of the end of March, just £2.1 million of these fines had been collected. They're now actively chasing £6.5 million in unpaid fines as £3.6million has been written off as discharged debt and a further £869,000 has been written off because The Pensions Regulator cannot justify the cost of chasing the debt.
"We proactively sought payment of any outstanding penalties and this work will continue with a view of seeking prompt payment of any penalties due." said The Pensions Regulator.
The Pensions Regulator's chairman, Mark Boyle heralded the work they do to protect pension savers against a backdrop of 'continued political and economic uncertainty'.
He said: "Our work to deliver pension savings to millions more workers through automatic enrolment and to protect those in pension schemes by ensuring standards are met, is a highlight of another strong year for TPR."
"We have had success with, and learnt from some very high profile cases, and we have also started a major internal review of the way we regulate, which will deliver new regulatory approaches in line with our growing responsibilities, all of which will ensure we remain fit for purpose for years to come."