The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued the London Borough of Barnet Council’s pension scheme manager with a £1,000 fine for failing to submit legally required documents.
The fine, which was issued in relation to the Local Government Pension Scheme for England and Wales, was delivered to the London Borough of Barnet’s pension scheme manager for failing to submit the 2016 scheme return document.
Managers and trustees of public service schemes are required to provide a scheme return document under the Pensions Act 2004. This will typically ask for information such as up to date contact details for managers, trustees and employers, scheme type information, and membership numbers. Scheme return notices are issued to managers of public service schemes annually, usually giving pension scheme managers six weeks to submit the required information.
Failure to provide this information by the deadline can lead to fines of up to £5,000 per individual or up to £50,000 in other cases.
TPR issued a scheme return notice to Barnet Council on 9 July 2016, providing a deadline of 12 August 2016. The scheme return was not received and further communications by TPR were issued.
On 29 September 2016, TPR issued a notification of failure to the scheme manager, which required them to complete the scheme return by 14 October 2016. This was followed by a warning notice in 18 January 2017, which outlined TPR’s intention to ask the Determinations Panel to issue a penalty notice for failure to submit the scheme return.
The situation was deferred to the Determinations Panel on 24 February 2017, and the case was considered on 8 March 2017. The panel decided to impose a £1,000 fine against the scheme manager.
The penalty notice was issued to the London Borough of Barnet on 13 April 2017 and was paid on 9 June 2017.
A spokesperson at Barnet council said: “The council recognises that this is totally unacceptable. Due to a specific resourcing issue, the 2016 Annual Scheme Return was not filed in time by our supplier. The fine has been paid by them and steps taken to ensure this will not reoccur.”
Nicola Parish, executive director of frontline regulation at TPR, 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.”