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We use the scheme return to gather information about pension schemes. We use the data gathered to help maintain our register of schemes and to identify schemes where there’s a risk or potential risk to members’ benefits. We also use this information to calculate annual levy charges.

We share the information we collect with the Pension Protection Fund and the Pension Tracing Service.

Scheme return 2017-18

Find additional information you'll need in order to complete your scheme return:

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Complete your scheme return

It's the legal responsibility of the trustees (or managers of the scheme) to complete a scheme return, unless the number of scheme members falls below two or the scheme has been wound up.

If you fail to complete the scheme return by the date specified in the scheme return notice this is a breach of the Pensions Act 2004 and could lead to you being fined.

You can complete your scheme return using our online service, Exchange.

Once you have collected the information you need the online process should take you less than one hour approximately.

Select the help icon in Exchange exchange help icon for further guidance to a particular scheme return question.

For further information on how to use Exchange, including how to associate to a registered scheme, see Exchange: online service.

When you need to complete it

The due date for your scheme return is stated in the notice sent to you by TPR. You can also find it in Exchange.

Most scheme types are required to submit a scheme return every year. If your scheme is an occupational / DC scheme with less than 12 members, it's every three years.

The table below outlines how often each scheme type is currently requested to submit a completed scheme return. This information is provided only as a guide and there may be times when TPR will send out the scheme return notice outside of the date range. Schemes must ensure that the scheme return is completed and submitted to TPR in accordance with the date set out in the notice, whether it is requested within the date range set out below or not.

TPR may decide to change the frequency of the scheme return but no more frequently than once every year and no less frequently than once every three years (or five years if the scheme has less than five members).

Scheme type Scheme members Frequency Scheme return notice sent
Occupational / DB 2 or more Every year December to January
Occupational / DC 12 or more Every year July to August
Occupational / DC 2 to 11 Once every 3 years July to November
Personal pension 2 or more Every year July to August
Public service 2 or more Every year July to August

We aim to give you six weeks to complete and submit your scheme return. If you are unable to complete the scheme return by the due date stated in the scheme return notice contact us.

Late scheme returns

The scheme return notice contains a 'due date' which cannot be changed. There isn't an automatic penalty for not submitting the scheme return by the due date. However, a trustee who's 'failed to take all reasonable steps to secure compliance' may be liable to a penalty.

If you're waiting for information from a third party (eg an insurer), you should keep pressing them for the information. As a trustee, you're responsible for completing the scheme return.

If the scheme has fully commenced winding-up and you expect the process to be completed shortly, you do not need to fully complete the scheme return. Provided that the scheme is wound up before the deadline for the completion of the scheme return.

We're committed to helping trustees meet their statutory requirement. If there's anything we can do to help, or if your scheme return submission is delayed beyond the due date, please contact us.

Overdue notice

We automatically issue an overdue notice if the scheme return is not submitted one week after the due date. We will consider taking further action against trustees who are non-compliant where this is appropriate and proportionate.

The notice is sent to the contact listed in our records at the time it's issued. So if you have updated your scheme return contact since the original notice was issued, an overdue notice is sent to the new contact.

The overdue notice has all the information you need to login to Exchange to complete the scheme return. You don’t need to have the original scheme return notice to complete the scheme return.

What information you need

To enable you to complete the scheme return, it may be useful to have the following documents to hand:

Your scheme's advisers will be able to help you obtain any additional information you may need to provide us with.

Before the return is issued you can:

  • Check your files to ensure you have the scheme’s governing documentation, most recent scheme report and accounts, and any recent statements of the scheme assets / contributions.
  • Check you have access to the scheme details through Exchange. If not, a trustee may need to contact us to request access or have access granted to a third party.
  • Check with the scheme’s key personnel (eg trustees, managers) for any changes in their contact details. If there have been any changes you should update the scheme registration immediately to ensure the scheme return notice is sent to the correct address.
  • Review the DC scheme return example form or DB scheme return example form to identify any further details you may need regarding your scheme.
  • If applicable, request any missing information from your scheme provider, insurance broker, IFA or accountant. Please note that most insurers will take at least 10 working days to provide scheme information, and this can be significantly longer during peak times.

We regularly review the data that we request from you as part of the scheme return. We only collect information that we use to maintain the register of pension schemes or is reasonably required for us to exercise our regulatory functions in relation to the scheme.

Changes to registrable information

You are legally required to notify us of any changes to your registrable information. This includes changes to the following details:

  • name and / or address of the scheme
  • employer or trustee
  • scheme's status
  • number of scheme members

You can access your scheme information via Exchange at any time to update information that has changed. Keeping your scheme information up to date will also help you complete your scheme return more quickly and efficiently.

If you have entered information for the wrong scheme log back into Exchange and amend the information. If you're unable to do this please contact us

Schemes and members

The benefit type of your scheme will be one of the following three types:

  • Defined benefit (DB) - offers a pension based on how much a member earns and how long they are an employed member of the pension scheme.
  • Defined contribution (DC) - offers a pension based on value of the fund that has accrued as a result of contributions that have been made together with the investment returns.
  • Mixed benefits (hybrid) scheme - a combination of DC and DB.

Please refer to your scheme trust deed and rules which should indicate the benefit structure of your scheme.

Broadly, there are three types of members which are:

  • Active members - members of an occupational pension scheme who are at present accruing benefits under that scheme in respect of current service.
  • Deferred members - members of an occupational scheme who have accrued benefits under that scheme relating to their past service and who are no longer active members but have not yet retired. These members may continue to work for the employer, or have left the employment of the employer associated with the scheme. This category of membership will remain until every individual in that category either transfers their pension entitlement to an alternative pension arrangement or starts to take their pension entitlement as a retirement pension.
  • Pensioner members - members who are entitled to payment of a retirement benefit that is payable by the trustees or managers of the pension scheme in respect of their pensionable service. This will include individual annuities in payment where the annuity is written in the name of the trustees or managers of the scheme. A member who has taken their pension entitlement by purchasing an annuity in their own name is not classed a pensioner member.

Winding up

You're still legally required to complete a scheme return even if your scheme is in the process of winding up. If your scheme is winding up and you're experiencing problems with completing your scheme return contact us.

If your scheme has wound up and you have not yet notified us, please log into Exchange and update the scheme membership and scheme status (including the effective date of the wind up), to ensure you are not unnecessarily issued with a scheme return.

HMRC scheme return

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) scheme return is entirely separate to our scheme return. We collect data for different purposes to HMRC. A scheme return is also separate from the duty to complete a declaration of compliance for automatic enrolment.

After you submit your scheme return

Once you have submitted your scheme return you will receive a confirmation email (the email is sent to the Exchange user account from which the scheme return was submitted).

You are legally required to notify us of any changes to their registrable information. This includes changes to the following details:

  • name and / or address of the scheme
  • employer or trustee
  • scheme's status
  • number of scheme members

You can access your scheme information via Exchange at any time to update any information that has changed. Keeping your scheme information up to date will also help you complete your scheme return more quickly and efficiently.