He said: “Allowing members or laypeople to administer Ssas, and indeed other small occupational schemes, increases the risk of tax charges due to maladministration as well as exploitation of the self-assessment basis of pension taxation.
“The government and regulators will be aware of this weak point and would do well to consider imposing some form of return to the position prior to April 2006 when having a professional associated with a scheme was compulsory.”
Malcolm Small, director of policy at the Tax Incentivised Savings Association, said it was too easy for an individual to set up a scheme for the purposes of pension liberation.
He said: “Setting up a Ssas means you have to register it as a scheme with HM Revenue & Customs but, frankly, the hurdles are limited. This could give rise to pensions liberation schemes as it can take just a week to establish a Ssas and you can start making contributions into it straightaway.
“It’s a real issue and HMRC must carry out more checks on the qualifications of those who register Ssas but it is not in the business of giving itself more work at the moment.”
Richard Mattison, director of Ssas provider Whitehall, warned that the absence of professional administrators allowed suspected money laundering activity to go unchecked. In 2012 Whitehall wrote to the Treasury and HMRC to warn of the dangers of loose controls on some Ssas schemes.
Mark Andrews, managing director of Manchester-based Redswan Wealth, said: “The decision in 2006 to get rid of pensioneer trustees was meant to be a simplification. It was anything but. Now there are a host of charges against risky administrators. These are laypeople getting involved in a complex area, not criminals, and falling into difficulty. That is a much greater area of concern.”