The failure of some schemes to properly assess the quality of their record keeping is a serious issue, The Pensions Regulator has warned.
Delivering a strong message to scheme trustees and administrators in its annual record-keeping survey, published late last week, the watchdog said more needed to be done to ensure the right benefits are paid to members at the right time. Record-keeping problems has led to TPR opening up four new investigations, in addition to the seven it launched following last year's thematic review.
Andrew Warwick-Thompson, TPR's executive director for DC governance and administration, said it was 'highly disappointing' that some schemes still do not see record keeping as a priority.
'We will be working with schemes to improve standards but we will take action where problems become apparent to us and report publicly on the outcomes, as appropriate.
'Members have the right to expect to be in schemes which are well run, which is why good record-keeping is an integral part of our codes of practice and why we will address cases of bad practice. Our recent thematic review unveiled a number of concerns, which led us to open new cases.'
The regulator's research highlighted a slowdown in the rate at which schemes are taking action to measure their common data - items applicable to all schemes - for the first time, with figures almost unchanged since last year's survey.
Warwick-Thompson stated that the regulator's survey consistently found weaker governance ad administration standards in smaller schemes.
'To address this we plan to overhaul our strategic approach to improving the quality and skills of the people responsible for running pension schemes,' he said.
The survey found that two-thirds of trust-based scheme members are in plans that have met the regulator's common data targets - data such as member's name, address, NI number and date of birth - but found a ceiling is being reached in terms of schemes engaging with the process.
For larger schemes, 64% of plans had a data score of 95% or greater, compared with 33% of smaller schemes.
The number of defined benefit schemes hitting the 95% common data score level rose from 56% last year to 68%, while for defined contribution schemes the proportion rose from 47% to 55%, found the survey.
It also showed that 32% of members are in schemes that have a conditional data score of more than 90%, with year-on-year increases across all plans.
Conditional data captures additional details such as the employing company, date of leaving lifestyle DC transactions and investment splits.
TPR noted that there continued to be a high proportion of schemes where conditional data is not formally measured.