Personal Pension  

Regulator: Pension schemes must improve data quality

Around 2.3m members remain in pension schemes where the common data, such as name and date of birth, is not measured or where significant improvements are needed, The Pensions Regulator has warned.

The occupational pension schemes regulator revealed in its latest annual survey, published today (23 July), that many pension schemes are falling short of the standards that it has set out for measuring data quality and maintaining accurate records.

The regulator has previously set targets for schemes to meet its ‘common data’ standards by the end of 2012. These standards concern name, date of birth and national insurance information, which are needed to identify scheme members.

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Members in large and medium trust-based schemes are more likely to be in a scheme that measures the common data score and achieve the target score of at least 95 per cent, compared with members in small trust-based schemes, the data reveal.

Over 9.2m trust-based members are in schemes with a common data ‘score’ of 95 per cent of present accurate data or greater. However, 2.3m members remain in schemes where the common data is not measured or where it is falling significantly short of the target.

The survey also highlighted that awareness of the requirement to measure common data remains an issue for some small schemes.

However, the survey revealed that measuring ‘conditional’ data – more detailed data such as contribution history, date of leaving and other items needed to accurately calculate a member’s benefit – is less of a priority for schemes.

This was particularly evident in larger trust-based schemes, where, of the 42 per cent that have not generated a conditional data score, 29 per cent said it was not a priority. Half of small trust-based schemes who do not measure this score were not aware of the requirement to do so.

Louise Hallard, policy lead for defined contribution, governance and administration, said: “The latest research results show there is still some way to go for schemes to achieve high standards across the board. This will become increasingly important for members of DC schemes with the introduction of automatic transfers by government.

“We are currently undertaking a detailed review to establish whether schemes have met targets for keeping accurate records, and the standards set out in our guidance. If we find breaches of pensions legislation, we can take action including issuing improvement notices and financial penalties.”