Online platform to guide NI businesses through auto enrolment challenge
By Eleanor McGillie
OVER 65,000 small businesses in Northern Ireland will be ready to face the Government’s auto enrolment challenge with a new step by step online solution which empowers business owners to fulfil their pensions obligations.
The Government’s pensions initiative, which aims to help people save for later in life through a work pension scheme, has already been enforced in large and medium sized companies. But, with these submissions made, the focus has now switched to small business owners.
A total of 65,415 small businesses in the province, which have 50 employees or less, are now facing the process which has been deemed the biggest administrative headache in years. But with the creation of ‘My Auto Enrolment’, a unique online procedure, those businesses can now be guided through the process by a team of chartered independent financial advisers.
Stephen Watson, creator of myauto-enrolment.co.uk, said: “This is a unique online procedure which calculates and compares contributions and costs allowing users to be guided by a team of independent financial advisers to make their submission in their own time and at their own pace.
“Since auto enrolment began 4.7 million workers have been put into a workplace pension scheme by their employer. More than 33,000 large and medium employers have complied with their duties.
“But as this scheme is rolled out over the next three years another 1.25million employers will have to comply with the new workplace pensions. In the Northern Ireland, this equates to 98.15 per cent of businesses, which have 50 employees or less, who will have to make their submissions.”
Mr Watson said what has been lacking to date is a seriously good technology platform, fully supported by independent financial advisers, which removes the manual intervention which comes at a great cost, especially to smaller businesses.
He added: “Auto enrolment has been a challenging task for many as The Pensions Regulator (TPR) advice for employers is even longer than Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ (177,227 words) and is almost the same length as Great Expectations (183,000 words). myauto-enrolment.co.uk takes the pressure off small regional businesses who are most likely to feel the strain.”
In April, 117,100 businesses across the UK received letters with 101,000 of those being given 12 months to make their submission while 16,100 received their six month reminder. A further 9,700 are expected to submit last minute which means risking compliance notices from the regulator.
Latest figures show TPR has issued four escalating penalty notices carrying a daily fine of between £50 and £10,000 against businesses which have failed to comply with their auto-enrolment obligations.
The regulator also reveals a 20 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase in the number of firms issued fixed penalty notices of £400 from 166 to 198 and it has used its AE powers 446 times in the first three months of 2015, with the total coming in at 1,962 since the legislation took effect in October 2012.
Mr Watson said the team at Watson French, a company regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, wanted to create a process which is stress free, fully guided by an independent adviser and is faster and safer to use.
He said: “myauto-enrolment.co.uk is a solutions driven process which reduces cost, saves time, is stress free and is 100 per cent guided by independent financial advisers. It is not only the perfect solution for businesses who don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on seeking specialist support but it is also a bonus for accountants who will be able to pass the benefits onto their clients.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Watson French is a Chartered Independent Financial Planning & Investment Management firm primarily for business people and those with capital to invest.
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