Is NEST “preaching from the pulpit with its trousers round its ankles”?

noisy nest

sweet – but properly fed?

Give us this day our daily bread

I have referred to NEST as a scheme that gives a Government Incentive to save to all who use it, regardless of employment status. I believe it to be a true net-pay scheme.

But for some time there have been those at the sharp end of pensions – those who pay people- who have been telling me there are those within NEST who cannot get their Government incentive.

In comments on yesterday’s blog, the formidable payroll polemicist and thought leader, Simon Parsons wrote with some feeling

.. But are all entitled when in RAS? Those with NEST don’t get the promised ‘Government Incentive’ if the NINO is not known or they are new into the country and don’t have one yet!! The government are complicit in the problem.

No national insurance number, no incentive? But surely this is about the Inland Revenue (HMRC) and their system of enforcement – Real Time information(RTI)?

Here’s Simon again.

NINo causes no problems for RTI. It does helps in DWP having a correct contribution history, but date of birth and other identifying information suffices. NEST will point the contradiction finger at HMRC. The irony is that a foreign employee who is not resident in the UK is entitled to RAS on their contribution even if they have never been in the UK. NEST have no data item for when a NINO is not present for a UK worker. Only those under 16 and overseas workers who are not in the UK!

If the complicit government are planning on pointing fingers at compliant employers who have implemented a qualifying pension scheme because of the stupidities of contradictory pension relief schemes then they may live to regret their own complicit contradictions.

If employers should be liable for operating schemes that deprive the low paid of the Government Incentive, should that include those employers who use NEST without properly checking whether their staff have NINOs or not?

I am quite sure that NEST is discriminating against recent immigrants awaiting their NINOs but surely it is only a matter of time before the NINO’s come through and a backdated claim is made by NEST on their behalf. Simon is on the case again…

Not according to NEST. But according to HMRC you can. But only NEST can do that and in the past they have been unwilling to do so! Maybe they don’t have the systems to do it properly. But then why do you need a NIÑO at all for a RAS bonus? If your a foreigner overseas you don’t.

So NEST’s position, in the eyes of one of our leading payroll practitioners is at odds with the principal of a universal Government incentive. It looks to be at odds with EU legislation on the treatment of migrant workers and it appears to be an example of this quasi Governmental organisation hiding behind its public service obligation to mask its inadequate systems capacity.

I take as an example of NEST’s cavalier approach to the subject this little infographic – taken from NEST insight 15

nest contributions

There is no point in producing fancy infographics when something as fundamental as  20%  of the member’s contribution goes a begging! (and I’m not endorsing the apples and pears comparison either!)


Is NEST preaching from the pulpit with its trousers round its ankles?

To test this allegation, we need to hear from those using the Relief at Source system about their experience. So if anyone is reading  this from People’s, Supertrust or anyone operating a GPP – including non-insured SIPP providers such as Hargreaves Lansdowne, please comment or speak to me independently at

We need to know whether, in practice, you can operate relief at source without a NINO and whether you can make a backdated claim for the incentive once the NINO has arrived.

For most of us reading this blog , the issue is not personal, it is about fairness and in particular it is about treating those poorest in our society with respect. A promise is as much a promise to the disconnected person without a NINO as it is to the CEO of NEST, the Pension Minister or the head of policy at the DWP.

So Helen, Ros and Charlotte, let’s get answers to these questions and – if NEST is- as Simon says, let’s have a level playing field so RAS mean RAS and Government Incentives are fairly applied.

Perhaps a polite but informal comment on here would help!

Come on Helen, put down your mince pie and get on your keyboard!!


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Is NEST “preaching from the pulpit with its trousers round its ankles”?

  1. Bob Ward says:

    I’ve written on this before and on behalf of those who provide net pay schemes the problem should not be shoved onto the pensions industry. This is clearly a situation caused by George Osborne and his advisers who split the link between the lower earnings level and the trigger point of AE. We all knew it would happen and came as no surprise yet HMRC has shown no attempt to put right what their dept should have had a contingency plan all along when AE was being developed.
    The solution lies with HMRC and just creating a suitable code to add the 20% automatically for all members irrespective of their tax status. If an individual has no tax payable for an input period the the employer would still add the relief and off-set the total amount paid to HMRC for that period.
    What is the problem, why is it being made complicated, the RTI was supposed to simplify tax collection and here is a prime example of why.
    There’s talk of more workplace savings (ISA’s, etc) and this would work for those as well.
    There will be more changes in every budget and the industry cannot keep changing systems every time. Tax collection is HMRC’s remit and any changes.a Chancellor makes should be thought though by the Treasury, HMRC and DWP before release.

  2. Charlie Goodman says:

    It’s my understanding that the vast majority of providers will not accept an employee as a member without a NINO.

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