A pension provider has said a decision by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) not to publish a list of pension schemes for small employers to comply with auto-enrolment is a major disappointment.
Morten Nilsson, CEO of NOW: Pensions, said: "Taking action now to help channel these firms to the right places is critical otherwise we run the risk of a pensions train crash which would seriously derail confidence in auto-enrolment."
TPR decided not to publish a list despite the majority of respondents in a consultation calling for one. Of the 43 responses received, 32 respondents supported the publication of a list, five were neutral and six did not support the publication.
The regulator said although the majority of responses were supportive, there were "significant challenges" in setting criteria applied to schemes. The paper said: "Several respondents pointed out the difficulty of articulating the universal acceptance criterion in sufficient detail so as not to screen out schemes operating reasonable terms and conditions in a mass market."
TPR said it would be difficult to manage and monitor the list to ensure schemes continue to meet criteria and to provide appropriate levels of scrutiny.
TPR's executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said: "We are providing employers with the information they need to plan and prepare for automatic enrolment, and are currently enhancing this material to make it more suited to the needs of small and micro businesses. This work will include strengthening our guidance to help employers to find a suitable scheme."
Nilsson said: "It's a great pity that despite the majority of consultation responses being supportive, TPR encountered obstacles that meant it was unable to find a way to get this pragmatic initiative off the ground."
Nilsson said the pensions industry, the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST is a government-backed pensions provider which accepts any employer), the Department for Work and Pensions and the government should help employers identify "high quality schemes". He felt it was "foolhardy" to think NEST would be able to handle every employer.