80 per cent of small businesses seeking advice on Auto Enrolment

Around 80 per cent of small-to-medium businesses who have their Auto Enrolment staging date between October 2014 and April 2015 had consulted advice of some form, to help them meet their new duties, data from the Pensions Regulator has revealed.

Eight in ten employers staging between the above dates had consulted an ‘adviser’, be that a range of support services, a regulated financial adviser or pension providers, The Pensions Regulator has said.

The research has come from a TPR employer survey and an adviser survey. *

A key finding from the employer survey were that nine in 10 employers staging between October 2014 and April 2015 had commenced preparation to meet their new duties, while research from the adviser survey found that there was almost a universal level of awareness of changes in pension law among all adviser groups.

IFAs were found to have have the greatest understanding of key elements of the reforms at 99 per cent and accountants have the least understanding at 71 per cent.

Accountants and bookkeepers were least likely to have used TPR’s website, with 39 per cent and 48 per cent respectively being aware it was a source of information.

The regulator also today urged thousands of new businesses to check when their staging date is, following TPR research which found that 20 per cent of small and micro employers do not know the exact date they need to comply with automatic enrolment laws.

Every employer is given a ‘staging date’ when their duties start and TPR recommends that employers should start preparing for automatic enrolment 12 months ahead of that date.

In a statement, The Pension Regulator warned: “Failure to prepare in good time puts employers at risk of non-compliance and this can ultimately lead to financial penalties.”

Charles Counsell, executive director of Automatic Enrolment at TPR, added: “Employers must prepare and they will be looking to advisers to help them.

“Too many small and micro employers still don’t know when their staging date is. While we write to employers 12 months ahead of that date, it is important for them to check if they need to be ready by next summer – or later.”

* Data as at September 2014