HC Deb 23 October 2001 vol 373 cc179-80W
Mr. Lilley

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what action has been taken since 8 October against employers who have not made a stakeholder pension scheme available to their employees; [9706]

(2) against how many employers action has been taken since 8 October for failure to make a stakeholder pension available to their employees; [9708]

(3) what estimate he has made of the proportion of employers required to make stakeholder pensions available to their staff who have not yet done so. [9707]

Mr. McCartney

We estimate that there are between 350,000 and 400,000 employers who need to designate a stakeholder pension scheme for their employees. The latest available figures show that around 147,000 employers had designated a scheme by the end of August 2001. Reports from the pensions industry indicate a late surge of designation activity in September and early October leading up to the 8 October designation deadline.

The regulation of compliance with the stakeholder pension terms and conditions is a matter for the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra). At 19 October Opra had received 211 reports of alleged non-compliance with the requirement on employers to offer their work force access to a stakeholder pension scheme. It will make contact with each employer to provide education material and guidance, and to establish the facts of the case.

If Opra's inquiries indicate that the employer has failed to comply, Opra will send out a statement of facts to which the employer can add any relevant mitigating factors. An agreed statement of facts will then be placed for determination before a committee of the Opra board. The board will then decide if a breach of the legislation has occurred, and if so, what penalty is to be imposed.