Countdown Bulletin 23 - February 2017

Published 6 February 2017

Welcome to the February 2017 edition of the countdown bulletin.

Scheme reconciliation - active members

Countdown Bulletin 20 advised that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) intended to automatically close all open periods of contracted out employment (active members) held on HMRC records via a scan.

The scan has completed successfully and a pilot exercise has been in place from 16 January 2017 to 5 February 2017 with a small number of Pension Scheme Administrators (PSAs), following a similar approach to the introduction of the Scheme Reconciliation Service (SRS).

PSAs involved in the pilot exercise will use the HMRC data to compare against their own records only, but are not able to raise any queries with HMRC. Based on their comparison these PSAs will inform HMRC of the potential number of membership queries they anticipate raising, to assist us with planning.

During the pilot an issue has been identified where the start and/or end date on the output is incorrect. This issue only affects certain members, and we are working with our IT supplier to rectify this problem and produce reliable revised files.

Unfortunately the resolution of this problem will mean a delay in the issue of the files. However we aim to begin sharing the active member data with you in February 2017, and will keep you updated on progress.

Those PSAs who have submitted the closure scan request form, and who have actively engaged with HMRC by submitting scheme reconciliation queries, will receive their data first.

If you have not yet completed and submitted the closure scan request form to obtain your active member data, please do so as soon as possible.

Scheme Reconciliation Service

As detailed in recent countdown bulletins, HMRC is currently experiencing high volumes of queries in relation to scheme reconciliation.

Significant numbers of slots for clerical processing have been filled however the influx of queries has led to an extended wait time between submission to HMRC by PSAs and HMRC starting their review.

The Customer Relations Management (CRM) team are working with PSAs to ensure everyone is aware of this delay prior to the submission of the queries and we would encourage you to contact them using the CRM hunt group number of Telephone: 03000 550315 in advance of query submissions to discuss expected timescales.

Once data is received by HMRC via Shared Workspace, the CRM team will again contact the PSAs by phone and a follow up confirmation email with the expected HMRC reply timescales.

We have recently streamlined our internal administration processes. We are pleased to tell you that we are now currently contacting PSA’s within approximately 2 days of submission of queries to confirm expected timescales and have improved our customer waiting time by 25% when responding to your queries.

Should automation of queries result in slots being released, the team will allocate a revised timescale on a first in first out basis, and will contact the relevant PSAs to update them.

Automation of SRS queries

Not In Scheme

In Countdown Bulletin 22 we provided information on the automated solutions available for ‘Was In Scheme’ (WIS) and ‘Not In Scheme’ (NIS) queries. Unfortunately, some of the column references in the table for NIS queries were incorrect so a revised table is shown below.

We have been asked if we can automate NIS queries that are due to transfers out to appropriate personal pension schemes and we are investigating this.

We have also received feedback that the Employer’s Contracting-Out number (ECON) and take up date are not always available. Can you please advise by email: whether this is an issue for you and advise the transfer details that you normally hold.

If you are taking advantage of the automated solutions would you please remember to include ‘NIS Automation’ or ‘WIS Automation’ in your file name.

Not In Scheme mandatory fields Query template column Requirements
Scheme Contracting Out Number (SCON) A ‘S0000000(L)’ - this must start with an ‘S’, followed by 7 numbers and a suffix
Member type B HMRC output member type
National Insurance number (NINO) C ‘LL000000(L)’ (NINO) - this must start with 2 letters, followed by 7 numbers, and an optional suffix
Surname D HMRC output Surname
1st Initial E HMRC output Initial
2nd Initial F HMRC output Initial
HMRC Start Date G HMRC output date and format
HMRC end date H HMRC output date and format
Query type L Not In Scheme
Scheme Comment AQ Must be one of:No Trace - Employer Details required or TFR out or RPA or Buy-out
Importing SCON AS Mandatory if scheme comment is ‘TFR out’, ‘RPA’ or ‘Buy-out’ ‘S0000000(L)’ - this must start with an ‘S’, followed by 7 numbers, and a suffix
Importing ECON AT Mandatory if scheme comment is ‘TFR out’ ‘E0000000(L)’ - start with an ‘E’, followed by 7 numbers, and a suffix
Take up date AU Mandatory if scheme comment is ‘TFR out’ for example, 01/01/2016, 01012016, 01.01.2016

Secondary type 5 queries

If you haven’t received responses for all your type 5 output from your initial run of SRS, please follow the steps below:

  • send a query template with SCON, NINO, surname and initial(s) populated in the correct fields and in the correct format as in the table above
  • your file name should include ‘ST5 AUTOMATION’

In return you will receive standard automated responses for approximately 80% of your queries. The remaining 20 % will be worked clerically and returned as agreed with the CRM team.

Schemes that ceased to contract-out before April 2016

If you have a scheme that ceased to contract-out before April 2016 but haven’t yet surrendered your contracting-out certificate would you please do so as soon as possible.

You need to notify HMRC of the event.

To help our planning, it would be really useful if you would notify these cessations as soon as possible by completing form APSS 155A and sending it to:

HMRC - Pension Schemes Services
Fitzroy House
Castle Meadow Road

Pension forums

This year we have decided not to hold pension forums as we feel that we have provided information about all of the processes about the ending of contracting-out.

However if you have particular issues relating to your schemes that you feel have not been covered in the countdown bulletins and would like to discuss in a meeting please send a message to the mailbox and we will contact you. This may result in a face to face meeting or a telekit depending on the type of issues you have. The email address is given under future articles section.

Countdown bulletins – previous articles

As we have issued many articles throughout all of the countdown bulletins it is sometimes difficult to know which bulletin to look at. A simple spreadsheet has been developed which lists all of the bulletins and the articles. If you would like to receive a copy of this spreadsheet please send a message to the mailbox address shown under ‘Future articles’

Future articles

If you would like to see articles about a particular topic please let us know – send an email to:

Distribution details

To make sure that we are reaching the right people, could you please circulate this and future editions of the countdown bulletin within your organisation.

If anyone would like to be added to or removed from the mailing list please send your details (name, company and email address) to the mailbox:

Information on HMRC: pension schemes reconciliation services is available on GOV.UK.

Earlier editions of the countdown bulletin are available at National Insurance Services to Pensions Industry: countdown bulletins.

Contact details

For general queries about contracted-out pensions please contact the helpline:

Telephone: 0300 200 3507

Please continue to deal with your usual contracted- out pensions contact for your day to day enquiries.

General queries about SRS should be made to the Customer Relationship team: