Swindon Town (STFC) – the Robins – are now to be called the Robings after attempting to rob their own staff of pension contributions.
Swindon Town Football Club made good £13,600 in pension contributions it owed staff nearly 15 months after it was first fined for its AE breach.
Here is what happened (re-published from Corporate Adviser)
STFC was issued with a compliance notice on 18 August 2014 directing it to automatically enrol staff and pay contributions but failed to comply by the deadline of 17 October 2014. As a consequence, TPR issued a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) which the company failed to pay. An EPN was issued on 20 January 2015 as the compliance notice still hadn’t been complied with, informing the club that, if it did not comply within a 28-day period, it would be fined at the rate of £2,500 per day – the accrual rate based on the number of workers in STFC’s PAYE scheme.
STFC then made contact with TPR which provided guidance to the company on what it needed to do. The escalating penalty was stopped on 26 February 2015 once STFC had completed a declaration of compliance, provided supporting evidence and assured us that backdated contributions would be paid within two weeks. However, TPR subsequently received a late payment report from the pension provider that confirmed no pension contributions had been made, including back payments owed.
In response to a request from the company to review the EPN, TPR wrote to STFC explaining that the request was received outside the statutory 28-day period, and asked the company to get in touch urgently to discuss the outstanding pension contributions.
With no payments forthcoming, on 12 June 2015 an Unpaid Contributions Notice was issued requiring STFC to make the payments within 28 days. No response was received to this notice, and as a result TPR conducted an inspection on STFC, during which the company agreed to take specific action to fulfil its duties.
Despite initial progress, liaison with the pension provider revealed that some contributions were still outstanding. As a consequence, the club was issued with a second EPN on 17 December 2015 requiring the missing contributions to be made by 28 January 2016. The provider confirmed on 18 January 2016 that the contributions had been paid up.
TPR executive director of auto-enrolment Charles Counsell says: “This case illustrates what can happen when an employer buries their head in the sand and disregards their duties.
“If things aren’t going well, then talk to us; don’t ignore us. Failing to comply on time will not save you money. Not only do you risk a fine, you will also have to make back dated contributions.”
Here’s what Swindon Town has issued as an apology. The intention of which is to put the blame on the power struggle – and by extension past Chairman Jed McCrory’s contesting ownership of the club.
14:04 21st April 2016
IT is unfortunate that the club has been fined by the Pensions Regulator.
The fine related to the period when the ownership of the club was being contested by the former Chairman and is yet another painful example of the severe adverse consequences that the uncertainty and instability caused in regularising the business affairs of the club.
The club is completely up to date and compliant with its pension obligations and contributions.
But as this BBC article makes clear, the contest of ownership was over before the Regulator was forced to take action .
This article is dated 1st July 2014 , 1 month before the Pension Regulator issued its first notice.
The (Lee) Power regime looks like it began at about the time Swindon should have been staging auto-enrolment and paying their staff pension contributions
Swindon have form
Swindon were Second Division play-off winners in 1989,but the club later admitted 36 charges of breaching league rules, 35 due to illegal payments made to players, and were relegated to the Third Division —.The scandal saw then chairman Brian Hillier being given a six-month prison sentence and chief accountant Vince Farrar being put on probation.
Once you’ve got a rotten apple in the barrel or a robbing robin in the NEST….