Westmorland serves up a new workplace pension scheme

When it comes to dealing with change, Westmorland has always tried to lead the way, and preparing for the government’s new workplace pensions legislation was no different.

Westmorland was founded in 1972 by the Dunning family, who were unfazed by the arrival of the motorway on their land and seized the opportunity to open Tebay services, the first Motorway service area to receive five stars in the VisitEngland inspection scheme.

Forty years later, the company forged ahead to meet new regulations relating to workplace pensions provision almost two years before their deadline, and with the help of Taylor Patterson financial advisory group, the company is now in the final stages of auto enrolling its workforce.

Preston based Taylor Patterson has handled Westmorland’s pension requirements for many years, and has also helped to ensure that the most recent changes are implemented sooner rather than later.

Jason Street, director at Taylor Patterson, explains: “As a long-standing client of Taylor Patterson’s, Westmorland was in a very good position to begin thinking about auto enrolment at an early stage.

“We began by initially assessing the company’s existing pension scheme to evaluate whether or not it was compliant with the new auto enrolment legislation, and also whether it was aligned with the long-term strategy for the business. “With a significant number of staff on part-time contracts, it was crucial that the scheme could accept contributions from members across all salary bands. As the existing provider could not accommodate this, we began to explore alternative options.”

Taylor Patterson surveyed the market and found a number of suitable schemes for Westmorland, presenting the options to Margaret Carr, Payroll Manager at Westmorland, and her team.

“Choosing a new pension scheme was not difficult,” Margaret says, “as Taylor Patterson’s research was very thorough and the benefits of each provider were highlighted to us clearly so that it was easier to compare them on a like-for-like basis.

“Once we had made our decision, Taylor Patterson arranged meetings with the staff to explain what the new scheme was and how it would benefit them, as well as helping to fill in the necessary paperwork.”

Westmorland eventually opted for a scheme which offered far more competitive charges and administration software free of charge. As with many businesses currently implementing auto enrolment, administration was a particular concern for Westmorland, especially as it employs more than 500 people spread across a portfolio of businesses including the popular and well-regarded Rheged visitor centre, farm shops, a hotel, caravan park and truck stop.

Margaret continues: “Our workforce is very diverse both in terms of the types of people we employ and the businesses they work in, so auto enrolling them all smoothly was always going to be a challenge. But throughout the process, Taylor Patterson liaised with the provider and guided us on the transfer of staff into the new scheme, significantly reducing the administrative burden.

“My advice to businesses would be do not underestimate the amount of time it takes to prepare for auto enrolment. No matter when your staging date is, begin preparing as soon as you can.”

Jason concludes: “Westmorland has made the right decision in ensuring everything is place for auto enrolment now. It has given them time to make considered choices and also to inform staff about the changes and give them the opportunity to have their questions and concerns answered by our expert advisers. “As a result, they now have a competitive employee benefits scheme to attract, motivate and retain their staff.”