Synopsis: As a result of on-going testing and contingency planning an emergency pause facility has been put in place.

The National Audit Office has published a report which says that as a last resort an ’emergency pause’ procedure has been put in place that can apply if automatic enrolment is unable to cope with unexpected increases in demand over the coming months.

This NAO report acknowledged the good work that has been done to introduce the automatic enrolment programme and that more people are now saving for retirement. However also highlighted is that significant risks remain as 1.8 million smaller employers are required to enrol their workers by 2018.

The report finds that while most eligible workers work for larger employers and have already enrolled, the vast majority of employers still have to start automatic enrolment and these smaller employers are expected to have different requirements and responses to the process.

Within the report it states that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) team ‘…reviews data, providing early warnings of problems ahead, and has held contingency planning workshops. As a last resort it has set out an ’emergency pause’ procedure to apply if the programme was unable to cope with unexpected increases in demand or changes in behaviour.”

The report goes on to say that the DWP, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and NEST are continuing to develop the range of responses they might introduce if demand rises.

In July we reported news that analysis from TPR showed that more business start-ups and a lower number of closures mean around 500 thousand more SMEs will have automatic enrolment duties than previously estimated. If this ’emergency pause’ is put into play then these small and micro employers who are still to stage may well find themselves with more preparation time for their automatic enrolment duties.

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