The Tory shadow pension minister has attacked the Pensions Regulator and Pada over delays to the introduction of auto-enrolment.
Tory pensions spokesman Nigel Waterson told an Social Market Foundation/B&CE fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that the introduction of auto-enrolment straight after the coming general election should not be delayed just because the Pension Regulator says it is not ready to regulate it.
Waterson also attacked Pada, together with the Department for Work and Pensions, for not consulting or notifying the Conservatives over the announcement last week of the delay in the implementation of personal accounts that will see employees of micro-employers not receiving a 3 per cent contribution until 2016/17.
He said the delay made the case for immediate implementation of rules allowing existing schemes to auto-enrol employees even stronger.
Pada says that the delay in implementation is the result of a decision made by the DWP and not by itself.
Waterson said: “The only significant practical arguments against the early introduction of auto-enrolment are those eminating from the Pensions Regulator and they think they wouldn’t be ready to regulate auto-enrolment in that early timescale. Well I am a great believer in ministers telling people to get on with it and deal with that sort of issue. And because of the sorts of companies we are talking about who would volunteer to do it early I suspect there would not be a huge regulatory challenge anyway.
“We have always accepted the principle of phasing in. But what happened to consensus? An announcement of such far reaching significance (the extension of the auto-enrolment deadline) is of huge importance. You would have thought that an announcement of such far-reaching significance would have been trailed, if not by the DWP with me or Theresa May, then by Pada. It is simply not appropriate a few months before an election not to have at least run it past us.”
Tim Jones, chief executive for Pada says: “The consultation on employer regulations is a matter for Government. ( (Whilst we welcome debate and research around the impact of the personal accounts scheme, and the Government’s reforms, we all need to focus on the best outcome for low-to-moderate earners.
“The Government’s plans to stage the duties over 36 months reflects the significant challenge involved in introducing a compliance regime and a new pension scheme to manage duties falling on 1m plus employers and 9m plus employees. Staging the onset of duties is important to ensure the on-take of employers goes smoothly. The Office of Government Commerce, as well as many stakeholders, recommends staged implementation approach as best practice for projects and reforms of this size.
“The length of staging and phasing represents a balance between the policy intent, complexity and scale of the programme, employer needs and employee needs.”