Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister, has said he’s “rapidly discovering” that he needs to spend more time with accountants.
The minister made the comment at a Friends of Automatic Enrolment event, organised by the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals. It was organised in response to concerns that the “capacity crunch” issue may cause pension automatic enrolment to fail.
Webb said in his speech that the enrolment system was off to a good start: “So far 15,099 employers have reached their auto enrolment staging dates and more than 3.6m people have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension.
While the UK’s bigger companies have been enrolling in the scheme over the last 18 months, over the next four years small and medium-sized businesses will be following suit. There is concerns this may cause problems with the system.
Webb has suggested that they’ve been paying attention to the firms already signed up to ensure the process and integration of more companies will go smoothly.
“For businesses with just one or two employees, they should be able to do it themselves. For very small businesses it will take a number of hours to take care of auto enrolment, but they have to understand what they need to do.”
One attendee disputed how simple it would actually be, citing payroll, data management and pensions a sbeing complex for a small business owner. Webb suggested that most business owners would be off-loading these tasks to their accountants.
After a representative of ICAEW asked about accountant engagement, Webb said: “I’m rapidly discovering that I need to spend more time with accountants.”