Small Business Special: Firms Face Pensions Penalties

Article excerpt

BRITAIN'S small businesses face fines totalling nearly pounds 4billion for failing to provide pensions for their employees.

From October this year every firm employing five or more people must offer them access to a "stakeholder" pension unless they have a pension scheme in place already.

Firms which fail to comply could be fined up to pounds 50,000.

B&CE Insurance, the largest provider of employee benefits to the construction industry, hopes to persuade employers to chip in towards their workers' stakeholder plans.

Insurance manager John Jory said: "Many employers in the industry have already committed to a pounds 5-a-week contribution."

There are at least 424,000 small firms which do not offer staff access to a pension scheme at the moment.

Of these, no fewer than 77,000 are heading for a fine because they have indicated that they can't be bothered.

Yet providing a "stakeholder" pension can cost an employer almost nothing. …