Opra, the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority has announced the launch of its new stakeholder pensions website. The site includes the register of stakeholder pension schemes which Opra publishes and maintains.
Before a scheme can be marketed as a stakeholder pension, it must get tax approval from the Inland Revenue and be registered with Opra. The first four schemes have now been registered and can be viewed on Opra’s stakeholder pages. Opra expect the register to grow in size steadily up to April next year.
Chief Executive, Caroline Instance explained:
"The web-based register is primarily a facility for employers who have a responsibility to check that the scheme they intend to designate for their staff is, in fact, registered as a stakeholder scheme. We welcome feedback on how easy it is to use because we want it to be as user-friendly as possible."
"From 8 October 2001 employers with five or more staff may have to designate a stakeholder scheme unless they have suitable alternative pension arrangements in place. Opra is responsible for making sure employers meet their legal obligations. We intend to help them through this process, which does not have to be seen as burdensome, with clear information on our website. The Department of Social Security has already produced a basic guide for employers which has been distributed by Inland Revenue. By April next year Opra will publish a ‘How to do it right’ guide."
"At this stage employers should be looking at whether they are exempt and whether extending current pension arrangements would be a better option for them than designating a stakeholder scheme. For those employers who wish to designate a stakeholder scheme, it would be better to wait until more choice is available before consulting employees and making a decision."
Opra’s site also includes stakeholder FAQs and provides links to other sites with information about stakeholder pensions, including the DSS and Inland Revenue websites.