The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has fined a public service pension scheme £1,000 for failing to submit information required by law.
TPR issued the fine against the London Borough of Barnet scheme manager for part of the Local Government Pension Scheme for England and Wales, for failing to submit its 2016 scheme return.
The action was revealed in its regulatory intervention report published today (27 July) and it is the first time TPR has fined a scheme manager of a public service scheme .
TPR issued a scheme return notice to Barnet Council on 9 July 2016, requesting the scheme return be submitted by 12 August. The return was not received and, as further communications from TPR were not replied to, the matter was referred to TPR’s Determinations Panel on 24 February 2017.
The panel decided to impose a fine of £1,000 against the scheme manager, taking into account its statutory objectives, which include promoting and improving the understanding of the good administration of work-based pension schemes, and that there are almost 23,000 members in the London Borough of Barnet scheme.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “It is the legal responsibility of trustees and managers to submit a scheme return by the deadline. This is one of the most basic regulatory requirements for trustees and managers and it is vitally important that we have up-to-date information about schemes so we can carry out our role effectively.
"We are also concerned if it is not submitted, as this may signal further problems within the administration of the scheme. Good scheme governance is a key factor to achieving positive outcomes for members. The action we took in this case demonstrates our commitment to this.
“We have shown that where managers and trustees are failing with their basic duties, including in large public service schemes such as this one, we will use our powers to intervene."
As the scheme return was not submitted, a TPR case team is continuing to engage with London Borough of Barnet staff to discuss the scheme’s future governance and administration.
Managers of public service schemes are expected to complete a scheme return which provides TPR with information about a scheme such as number of members and participating employers, contact details and information about its pensions board.
Depending on the nature and size of the scheme, trustees and managers are sent a scheme return notice at least once every three years.
TPR said it needs this information from scheme returns in order to carry out its role effectively.
Managers and trustees who fail to provide a scheme return by the deadline can be fined up to £5,000 per individual and £50,000 in other cases such as corporate trustees.
The penalty notice was issued to London Borough of Barnet, as scheme manager, on 13 April and paid on 9 June.