Coercion – use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.

A few years have gone by now since the start of Auto Enrolment, the majority of companies have embraced it whole heartedly and are doing everything that they can to ensure to they are communicating Auto Enrolment in the right way. Most of their employees are joining their new scheme, and those that choose to leave, or opt out, are doing so for what they believe to be good reasons. Let’s face it, from the employees view point Auto Enrolment is like a pay rise – 1% now, 2% in April 2018, and then 3% the year after that – and when they realise this… how many would opt out?  Not many. We do however occasionally see companies where EVERYONE opts out… or the vast majority, which bucks the trend and as you can imagine demonstrates that something untoward could be going on. Now we realise that for some a new scheme is an unexpected – and sometimes – unwanted expense, but Auto Enrolment is bound by law, and those companies that choose not to comply are playing a dangerous and potentially expensive game. As responsible employers, everyone has some obligation to ensure that their employees plan for their future beyond working age. If an employer expresses ANY cynicism about Auto Enrolment or pensions – they may be seen to be coercing their employees into opting out, and that is a breach of their obligations. Inducement or encouragement to opt out or leave the scheme is something that, as a responsible and registered provider, we would have to report to The Pensions Regulator. If they investigate and conclude that is...

Micro firms face ‘£22m fines’ over auto-enrolment breaches

It seems that a ‘Sizeable chunk’ of micro employers still not aware of duties regarding auto enrolment. According to professionaladviser.com, a significant minority of micro employers remain ‘in the dark’ over auto-enrolment responsibilities and face collective fines of £22m for potential breaches, according to a payroll provider. Data from The Pensions Regulator (TPR), released in its second quarter 2016 auto-enrolment report, said 262,000 micro employers were expected to stage both this year and in 2017. It said levels of understanding among micro employers – which have fewer than four employees – is about 80%. Payroll provider Paycircle said this means 52,000 of the UK’s very small businesses are potentially open to fines for non-compliance. It added based on fines handed out by TPR to date – of which a £400 fixed penalty notice was the most common – total collective penalties for micro employers could reach £22m levied this year and next. Sterling & Law IFA Laurence Sanderson urged small businesses to leave enough time ahead of their staging date to properly prepare for auto-enrolment obligations. He said: “People are not getting involved early enough. More and more clients are coming to us well after the staging dates. They very much have their head in the sand. This makes it harder to resolve the situation.” To properly comply with auto-enrolment employers, or their advisers, must complete a declaration of compliance and submit it to TPR. If it is not completed within five months of their staging dates they could be fined. Sanderson added: “Most fines are coming from this [not] happening.” He also urged accountants and payroll providers to communicate more with...

Insights from Accountex – 5 Key Auto Enrolment Issues

Now the dust has settled after attending the Accountex trade show at London’s Excel, the Nurture team would like to share some of the insights we gained from conversations with accountants at the show and afterwards. What instantly became clear is that the needs of our customers – companies like yours – are evolving. By sharing feedback from your peers, we hope to help you choose the right Auto Enrolment solution, and the resources and level of support required to meet your own specific needs. As you can imagine, a number of issues came to light. These are the five most frequently raised. 1. Things are not as easy as promised. A large number of accountants are experiencing issues with compatibility between systems. The most common reported was between Sage and a few of the Auto Enrolment providers – most notably, Now Pensions, Peoples Pension and Nest. These issues are making the whole process much more complicated and laborious than it should be. 2. Looking at changing provider. Because of negative experiences – including the one outlined above – some accountants are now actively looking at moving from the Auto Enrolment solution they currently work with. Issues include compatibility, the amount of time it takes to process Auto Enrolment and the sheer aggravation of it all. 3. Making money from Auto Enrolment. We spoke to a number of accountants who are experiencing difficulties in knowing how to charge for Auto Enrolment services. What is the going rate for an assessment? Can I charge more on top of my payroll fees? We know that Auto Enrolment is going to require service...

Nurture Passes Efficiencies onto Customers by Reducing Charge cap from 50 to Just 20 Employees.

As always, at Nurture Pensions we are constantly looking at making things easier for our customers. We’ve been working hard to refine the processes around managing larger companies using the Nurture Auto Enrolment software. We are pleased to announce that those changes have resulted in efficiencies that we can now pass onto you. Currently Nurture software fees are £5+VAT per month per employee, up to 50 employees. We are now reducing the cap on employee charges from 50 employees to just 20 employees. There continues to be NO set-up fees or hidden consultancy charges what-so-ever.   NEW STRUCTURE 1. A minimum charge of £10+VAT per month If your firm has one, or two, employees, the cost to use Nurture software will be £10+VAT per month 2. A maximum charging cap of £100+VAT per month Employers with 21 or more enrolled employees on their payroll will be much better-off. Employers with 2-20 employees will not be affected at all. This move bucks the trend of many larger pension providers who have recently announced increased charges and could provide substantial savings for companies already using alternative schemes or are growing quickly as their costs will be fixed. For example, a company with 75 employees would currently be charged at our 50 employees cap (£250+VAT monthly) but this will now fall to £100+VAT: a monthly saving of £150+VAT. As ever we are committed to providing you with all the customer support you need to make the Auto Enrolment process as painless as possible. We continue to make no charge for employees who decide to opt-out, nor do we charge for the provision of the initial eligibility...

Workplace pensions: a potential minefield for the unwary

The current workplace pensions landscape is a potential minefield for the unwary. There are numerous offerings from many different types of suppliers and providers including insurance companies, accountants, financial advisers, payroll bureaus, middleware software and master trusts. Together they can deliver everything needed for Auto Enrolment but individually they make up a fragmented and confusing array of potential solutions for businesses to consider. A changing market place When Nurture staged its first customer in October 2014 the market was a very different place. Solutions were generally manual, painful to use and costly. We wanted to try and simplify the process of Auto Enrolment by offering a technologically driven straight through processing solution via a shared portal linked to a mastertrust arrangement utilising the second largest fund manager on the planet. This joined up solution is now commonly viewed as the most cost effective way for businesses to stage their employees. We still believe Nurture is ahead of the curve,our focus is very much on ease of use, genuine “human” customer support and the creation of a revenue stream for our partners to help cushion the cost of providing the services their own clients badly need. Software as a service Nurture’s key differentiator is service, both to businesses and our intermediary partners. Employers, especially small companies need direct help. Managing the categorisation of employees into different groups that can change on a monthly basis was always going to be a challenge but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Accountants, IFAs and payroll bureaus also need guidance in supporting their valued clients through the complexities of Auto Enrolment. Our portal has been built...

NEW NURTURE PENSIONS PRICING STRUCTURE

At Nurture Pensions, we do things with you in mind. That’s why we’ve worked hard to create what we believe is the easiest to use software on the Auto Enrolment market. It’s why you can call up and talk to us if you’ve got a problem. It’s why we allow you to import payroll data from any piece of financial software. It’s why we’re introducing a new, better charging structure. When other companies are increasing prices (or introducing them on previously ‘free’ software), ours are dropping. Currently Nurture software fees are £5+VAT per month per employee, regardless of company size NEW STRUCTURE 1. A minimum charge of £10+VAT per month If your firm has one, or two, employees, the cost to use Nurture software will be £10+VAT per month 2. A maximum charging cap of £250+VAT per month* (THIS HAS SINCE BEEN REDUCED TO £100VAT PER MONTH) Employers with more than 50 enrolled employees on their payroll will be better-off. Employers with 2-49 employees will not be affected at all. This move bucks the trend of many larger pension providers who have recently announced increased charges and could provide substantial savings for companies already using alternative schemes or are growing quickly as their costs will be fixed. As ever we are committed to providing you with all the customer support you need to make the Auto Enrolment process as painless as possible. We continue to make no charge for employees who decide to opt-out, nor do we charge for the provision of the initial eligibility report. The minimum monthly charge will always apply for using the software. If you’d...

PENSION DELAYS GO AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT’S MESSAGE

Auto Enrolment was introduced to ensure people save properly for their retirement – so it seems a shame that George Osborne’s is sending out the wrong message just as things get moving the government jumps in to introduce delays. The minimum contribution was supposed to increase from 2% of earnings to 5% from October 2017 and then to 8% from October 2018. This has now been delayed by six months after the Chancellor’s autumn statement – a move which will cost the average earner some £770 in retirement savings*. The mixed messages – “it’s vital to start saving” … “it doesn’t matter if there’s a six month delay” – are unhelpful. Fortunately we knew right from the start that people might want to change their own settings from the default. Just because the goverment has slowed things down by six months doesn’t mean you have to. The Nurture Pensions software makes it simple to increase (or decrease, but not below the minimum) both employer and employee contributions at the click of a button. It’s easy to complain about the government, but not always easy to do something about it. However, now there is the chance: there is now no technical reason why employers and employees can’t manually increase their contributions in October 2017 and 2018. A little Nurturing can go a long way…   * Reference – The winners and losers from the Autumn Statement – The Independent – Simon Read Personal Finance Editor – Thursday 26 November 2015 – view here Photo credit:...

ONLY 10% OF EMPLOYEES ARE OPTING OUT OF AUTO ENROLMENT

Opt-out rates for Auto Enrolment pensions are significantly lower than expected. That’s a good thing – the point of Auto Enrolment is to get people to start saving towards their pensions, and if employees aren’t opting-out, they’re paying in. From January 2016 through to February 2018, some 1.8 million businesses will need to comply with the regulations – and the government’s worried that too many will! They’ve got an ’emergency pause button’ set-up which will put things on hold if they lost control – but the hope and expectation is that it will never need to be used. At Nurture, we’ve deliberately chosen a big, well-respected and well-performing pension fund (SSgA) and are more than confident that the promisingly low opt-out rates will continue. We’re confident that our straightforward charging structure, impressive pension fund and state-of-the-art software means the government can keep their fingers a long way from their emergency pause...

AUTO ENROLMENT: ABOUT MORE THAN JUST PENSIONS

One of the side-effects of Auto Enrolment we’ve noticed is how many firms are using it as a good excuse to finally take a proper look at how payroll is managed. Some companies have it relatively easy: a fixed number of employees, earning a fixed salary, being paid every month. That’s about as straightforward as payroll is going to get. Others might have more flexible contracts, perhaps ‘zero hours’, or staff who vary their work patterns, meaning their pay changes each month. They might be paid weekly or fortnightly. Many – most – payroll systems evolve over a business’s life. Running a business, by its very nature, is a fluid exercise and sometimes a piece of software might be chosen out of necessity to make something happen, rather than a well-planned, well-researched decision; salaries might be paid in a certain way because that’s just how it happened at the time and you’ve stuck with it. The Auto Enrolment process is something you must go through, by law. Our suggestion is to look at it not as a chore, but an opportunity. An opportunity to sit down and thoroughly review how you handle every aspect of your payroll and pension processes. We’ve made sure the Nurture software we’ve built can accept data from any accounting or payroll software. With any piece of business-critical software, whether it’s for payroll, Auto Enrolment, email or anything else, the most important question to ask is “Will this make my life easier?” At Nurture Pensions, we are confident we can answer “Yes” to that question. Find out more today. Photo credit: David...