Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Everyone’s facing uncertainty. We’ll use this page to keep you updated on what we’re doing to cope with the impact of COVID-19, and how we’ve responded to provide support for Smart Pension’s customers and members.

Updated 17 April 2020

Smart is a very people-focused business.

We’re following official advice closely, taking the right steps to protect our staff – and to support our customers and members.

Looking after our employees

Our customer service team is still on hand to answer any questions.

Taking care of clients and members

Businesses can still depend on us for reliable, responsive services.

Making information available

Helping you to understand how pension savings work in the long term.

Coronavirus and your Smart Pension

Our team is here to help, too. How to contact us.

How has Smart’s customer support been affected?

Our teams are all working remotely. We took action quickly to ensure the transition to home-working was a smooth one.

With regular business continuity meetings to guide our decision-making, we’re also confident of being able to provide the high levels of service that advisers, employers and members expect from us.

That said, our phone lines have been a bit busier than normal. So we’ve made more FAQs available in our online help centre, and those FAQs are well-signposted in each member’s Smart Pension account too.

Are Smart’s services affected by COVID-19?

No. You shouldn’t notice a difference in our services or our levels of support, even though many of our Smart Pension staff are working remotely. We’re a technology company at heart. We’ve always been happy using home-working technologies in our day-to-day business, and exploring new ways of working that actually bring us closer together.

Will COVID-19 affect scheme members’ savings?

Unfortunately, everyone’s pension schemes have been affected recently.

The financial markets are suffering from what’s known as ‘volatility’. We’re seeing investments go up and down in value a bit more than usual. However, Smart Pension scheme members’ savings are all managed carefully for the long term.

We’ll stay on top of this, and keep looking at the potential impact of coronavirus on members’ savings. Stay updated with our articles at www.smartpension.co.uk/member.

How can members be reassured about their pension savings?

Pensions are a long-term investment. We’ve reminded our members that it’s normal to see the value of their savings go up and down in the short term.

Members who are approaching retirement are rightly concerned about their pension savings falling in value. But our model investment strategy is designed to protect their money as they approach retirement age. We move their money into lower-risk funds, which means their pension savings are less likely to fall in value overall.

We can’t guarantee the value of pension savings won’t go down in value when invested in these lower-risk funds, but it’s less likely.

We’ve also sent messages to younger savers, reassuring them there’s plenty of time for markets to correct themselves and for their savings to grow.

Where can I find out more about pensions and coronavirus?

If you’re an adviser or employer, looking for more information about management of pensions in general at the moment, we recommend browsing the pages on these sites:

The Pensions Regulator is publishing updates on general coronavirus-related information.

The Department for Work and Pensions is updating its pages on changes to pension regulation.

And there’s more, general information about support for employers on the government's business support pages.

Does the Job Retention Scheme cover pension contributions?

Several employers have asked us, “Does the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme cover pension contributions?”

On 29 May, the government announced major changes to Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. In effect there will be two schemes. After the 'Mark I' scheme finished on 30 June 2020, the 'Mark II' scheme - or 'flexible furlough' – try to help employees back into the workplace.

Employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employee's salaries on a sliding scale over time, while the furloughed employees will remain entitled to 80% of their wages (subject to a cap of £2,500 in any one calendar month) throughout any furlough period.

Most importantly in terms of pension schemes, from 1 August the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme will no longer cover the costs of employers’ NI contributions or any part of pension contributions on furloughed wages. Employers must cover that part of the costs from thereon in.

Find out more by visiting the government's business support pages.

Where can I find more information in general about my pension?

If you’re a member, take a look at our latest article about how coronavirus will affect your pension savings

We recommend using www.unbiased.co.uk to find an independent, local financial adviser. But you can also get more guidance about the financial effects of coronavirus by visiting the Money Advice Service.

For information about spotting scams, visit ScamSmart – and for general guidance about your money and pensions, we recommend the Money and Pensions Service.

Is the government changing regulations around contributions?

We’re waiting for more guidance from The Pensions Regulator, but the Government has made it clear employers are still liable for two aspects of their contractual commitment to furloughed employees:

  • associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • and minimum employer pension contributions

Employers can, if they want to, provide top-up salary in addition to the grant, but additional costs won’t be covered by the scheme.