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Pensions whistleblowing reports up by 29%

Data from the Pensions Regulator shows there were 2,545 whistleblowing reports in 2015/16

The number of whistleblowing reports made to the Pensions Regulator has risen by almost a third (29%) in the past year, according to law firm Clyde & Co.

Data from the Pensions Regulator shows there were 1,968 whistleblowing reports made in 2014/15 compared with 2,545 in 2015/16. The number of reports in 2013/14 stood at 1,486.

Clyde & Co suggested that the increase could be a result of firms struggling with auto-enrolment, which even larger organisations have found complicated. Mark Howard, head of pensions at Clyde & Co, warned that the final stages of the auto-enrolment process are likely to be the most challenging.

"On top of this, the SMEs yet to face their enrolment deadlines are not going to have the support of HR departments to help them deal with the administrative headache of enrolling employees into a pension scheme," he said.

"The regulator has put out a lot of guidance aimed at SMEs, but even so it is not surprising that we are seeing the number of whistleblowing and enforcement actions increase as the number of employers subject to auto-enrolment grows substantially," he added.

Last month Swindon Town FC was fined more than £20,000 after it failed to comply with auto-enrolment regulations.

The football club was given an initial fixed penalty notice of £400. After failing to pay and then ignoring several warning notices it eventually reached a settlement to pay backdated pensions contributions. However, after the deal the club was late to pay what it owed, leading the fine to escalate to a total of more than £20,000.

Howard said this shows that the regulator has teeth. “Businesses cannot afford to take their eye off the ball or they could get hit with a fairly hefty escalating fine," he warned.