Over the past 15 months we have all been tested like never before. The immediate financial pressure on employers, as well as the logistical challenges of a country plunged into lockdown presented a significant risk to savers.
The impact of the pandemic will be felt for some time across all areas of society. But as we begin to emerge from the immediate crisis, we can now take stock of our response to the challenges as they unfolded.
Today we published our perceptions tracker survey 2020 and the results give us an opportunity to reflect on how well we have all worked together to protect savers.
The annual survey, which tracks how effectively The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is perceived to be fulfilling its statutory objectives, shows the majority of respondents (70%) judged our response to COVID to be ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Of the remainder, 17% rated our response as ‘fair’, with only 2% entering a ‘negative’ rating.
The survey of employers, people who manage pension schemes and advisers, show the main reasons given for the positive rating were the clarity and usefulness of our guidance (36%), our quick reaction and response (26%), the frequency and quality of our communications (20%) and the regulatory easements we introduced to support employers and schemes (10%).
The survey, which was carried out in September and October last year, also showed a quarter of those asked said they had used some or all of our easements to help them through the challenges of the pandemic and more than half of those who read our COVID scams guidance took action as a direct result.
As a regulator, gaining the trust and respect of those we work with is crucial. It is essential that the industry believes what we say – from following our guidance to understanding that we will take enforcement action where we need to. Having the backing of our regulated community also means we can advocate effectively for them when working with government and other organisations. This is why we welcome the survey results which show 75% of respondents rate our overall performance as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, 95% believe we were trustworthy and more than 77% agree we are visible, fair, clear and evidenced based.
Stakeholder perceptions survey
Our stakeholder perceptions survey, a second piece of research which takes a more in-depth look at the views of TPR among the pensions industry, industry bodies and government, is also published today and reflects the findings of the perceptions tracker. The survey was carried out last autumn and shows the vast majority praised the decisiveness, fairness and timeliness of TPR’s COVID-19-related activity, said we took a pragmatic and proactive approach to managing COVID-19 and effectively communicated our approach.
This type of research is crucial. It informs the way we regulate so that the people who manage and rely on pensions schemes – employers, trustees and scheme advisers – have the tools and information they need to make workplace pensions work for savers.
We know there will always be challenges ahead and we continually keep our approach and our communications under review. However, these encouraging results show it is right to set the bar high for ourselves and the industry we regulate, so that all savers are protected.
Protect savers pensions
We are determined to put the saver at the heart of all that we do. In our corporate strategy we laid out a commitment to enhance and protect savers pensions now and in the future. The strategy laid out our 15-year blueprint for the future with strategic priority areas guiding the work that we do from now on.
We have already started to deliver for savers including launching new strategies for climate change, which increases our focus on managing savers’ exposure to climate change risk, and for equality, diversity and inclusion which seeks to build a workplace pensions system that works for everyone.
But we can’t realise our commitments without our regulated community all pulling in the same direction and trusting that we are doing the right things as a regulator. We will do all we can maintain and build upon that trust – so that we all continue to work successfully together to achieve the best for savers.