Auto-enrolment? Yes, that word rings some kind of a bell, Britain’s small and medium-sized enterprises seem to be saying. Isn’t it supposed to be coming in some time soon? Maybe we ought to look it up?
A new survey of UK advisers by business software and services provider Sage, who know a thing or two about payroll records, has revealed that only 21% of the 200 IFAs it consulted agreed with the proposition that small firms are aware of auto-enrolment. Which is a little disconcerting, considering that around 8,000 businesses with between 50 and 249 employees need to have their workers enrolled onto a workplace pension by next April.
But it didn’t leave the advisers themselves looking particularly good either. 25% of the IFAs surveyed said they were not currently providing any advice on auto-enrolment – of whom 17% said that the administrative burden was putting them off. And 29% said that auto-enrolment was simply ‘not a priority’ for their clients – which may suggest that there’s trouble brewing soon.
It was, of course, a good thing that fully 69% of IFAs agree that they are best placed to advise SMEs on auto-enrolment – perhaps one of the most lucrative and attractive businesses to be opening up at the moment – but a separate Sage survey among small business owners in the UK had found that just one in five SMEs had discussed the subject with an IFA in the last twelve months.
Meanwhile, as Steve Bee reminded IFA Magazine last month, another survey of 108 firms that have passed their staging dates showed that 43% of the respondents said their HR/payroll systems had been unable to cope with auto-enrolment. But that among those that have yet to reach their staging dates, an alarming 77% believe their payroll systems will cope with the new system. Keep Calm and Whistle Loudly.