Word Worker press release

This will be a crucial year for Swindon’s small and micro businesses, now being drawn into the government’s auto enrolment programme, which demands employers to set up pension schemes for their staff.

That was the message delivered to the Swindon Auto Enrolment Support group, which meets quarterly at Regulatory Accounting. Its recent meeting was attended by Jeremy Leslie-Smith, of The Pensions Regulator, who said an estimated 750,000 employers were due to start their AE duties this year.

Mr Leslie-Smith said although the amount of penalties for non-compliance had gone up, they hadn’t increased in proportion to the numbers of employers starting their AE schemes. He said if an employer made a mistake, they were given time to put it right.

“Between July and September last year compliance notices were issued more often, as employers left things to the last minute, but once given a nudge employers complied,” he said. “Less than 5 per cent of compliance notices progressed to an escalating penalty notice.”

Nicki Goddard-Dady chairs the group, which is attended by professionals involved in payroll, independent financial advisers, HR professionals and accountants.

“Since auto enrolment started in 2012, some 7 million employees have been enrolled. But now we are reaching the very small businesses,” said Nicki, a partnership manager at Pensionsync, which provides free software to streamline the process of AE and pension admin.

“It is these smaller ones, who often have one person doing the payroll, and perhaps only a handful of employees, who are likely to be caught out through not setting up a scheme properly. For some it is a case of remembering to send off their Declaration of Compliance, which has to be done within five months of the staging date – it is surprising how many business owners are forgetting to do this.”

Richard Mathews, managing director at Regulatory Accounting – part of the RFS group – said: “Auto enrolment is a major change for the way employers run their businesses, and it is some of the smaller ones in particular – now being drawn into the system – which may struggle with ensuring they do everything correctly and remain compliant.”