An outsourcing firm has made progress in cleaning up serious errors in the council’s pension data that could risk a regulatory crackdown.

Capita, which manages Barnet Council’s pension scheme, had reduced the number of “critical errors” in pension data to 951 by April 1 – down from more than 6,000 in December last year.

The errors – which include out-of-date salary information and incorrect contribution rates paid by members towards their pensions – could affect the amount of pension benefits due to employees of the local authority.

Failing to rectify the mistakes in time for pensions to be valued and benefits statements to be sent out at the end of August could lead to the council being fined by The Pensions Regulator.

Pension consultant Gareth Hopkins told the local pension board on Tuesday (April 9) that Capita had made “significant improvements” on data quality.

Mike Green, public sector account director at Capita, said: “We have been working with council colleagues for several weeks now, and the focus we have had on this matter is shown in the results.

“The project team will be stood up throughout the month of April to make sure further progress is made.

“We want that exercise in data quality to be complete by the end of June to submit to the actuary.”

Some of the data problems have been caused by employers failing to notify Capita when staff left their organisations.

Employee representative Hem Savla questioned whether the council would face a similar situation in three years’ time as employee data continues to change and not be captured.

He said: “What I want to see is a report that identifies what kind of assessment is going to be done so we are not in a situation like this in three years’ time.”

Mr Green told the board Capita was “considering several options” for checking employer data on a more regular basis and would come up with a summary of lessons learned.

Board chairman Geoffrey Alderman said: “What action is being taken against this small number of employers who seem incapable of filling in a form and sending it back?”

Mr Hopkins replied: “The council clearly can’t get involved in every single request to fill in individual leaver forms.

“However, from a bigger picture in terms of processes, we have been working very closely with Capita as part of the annual benefit statement process.

“There are clear junctures so we can escalate that from a council level and make sure employers understand their responsibilities and what will happen if they do not undertake their responsibilities.”

Mr Hopkins added that it would be possible to impose financial penalties on employers who repeatedly miss the deadline for benefit statements to go out.

Barnet Council was fined £1,000 by The Pensions Regulator in 2017 after missing the previous year’s statutory deadline for sending out pension statements.

Capita was also criticised last year for making late payments totalling almost £2.4 million to the council pension fund.

Councillors have repeatedly ruled out bringing the service back under the council’s control but have suggested switching to a different administrator if the problems continue.