In June 2019, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme released the technical guidance for the move from MDC (Monthly Data Collection) to MCR (Monthly Contribution Reconciliation).
Changing processes is always a big job, and it takes time to refine things, but in the case of MCR, it was necessary to increase accuracy and efficiency. With the old process of MDC, errors were a common occurrence, whereas, with MCR, they are picked up and rectified more easily and quickly so that they are not carried forward to become a compounding problem. With such a major change, our Innovation & Change Management team were galvanised into action to lead the project.
Dataplan was part of the MCR pilot programme
When the decision was made to move to MCR, Dataplan Education was part of the initial engagement group that came together to develop and map out the processing at the start of the project in 2019. In addition, our Head of Innovation & Change Management, George Serls, was involved in meetings all over the country and video calls driven by the Teachers’ Pensions MCR development group.
With the help of Dataplan and some other providers, the process was built, which took 12-18 months. At this stage, organisations were asked to volunteer to be part of the initial pilot group, and Dataplan was involved in this from the beginning. The number of schools Dataplan Education put into the pilot accounted for about 10% of the group, so we were very active there. During this stage, all of the key internal stakeholders were consulted and involved in the decision making process.
As a result of the pilot, the processes were changed to iron out further issues and inefficiencies. When it came to rolling this out to clients, Dataplan took an aggressive approach to ensure that as many clients as possible could benefit from the changes quickly and could meet the tight deadline.
The original deadline extended
The original deadline for the move to MCR was April 2021, which was met with great concern from schools and providers like Dataplan Education. Many felt that the deadline was not realistic, and I took it as a personal challenge to influence the Department for Education (DfE) push the deadline back was instrumental in getting the deadline extended to April 2022. I crafted a carefully worded but powerful and persuasive email aimed at the DfE with all of the reasons it was not doable. There were many major change projects taking place across multiple public sector pension schemes at the same time, so together with some other organisations pushing back at DfE and Teachers’ Pensions, the deadline was extended.
Where are we today with MCR?
Even in April 2022, many schools haven’t met the deadline, and it’s now a little bit open-ended. Teachers’ Pensions have gone back to various organisations that haven’t moved over yet and payroll providers and asked them when they can realistically move.
Although we are not 100% moved over , we are well ahead of the game because many Local Education Authorities haven’t even started with MCR, mainly because their payroll system provider hasn’t come up with the tools to be able to do it.
There is an ultimate deadline, but it’s down to organisations to say when that will happen. Our approach is that any new clients joining us in March, April, and May 2022 won’t go on to MCR immediately. We will get the annual returns season out of the way first, then move on. The only other schools that we don’t have on MCR yet are any Local Education Authorities where they are not geared up with their service provider to do the returns (where we have local authority schools that do the payroll but not the pension because the Local Authority is still handling that.)
Everyone has had so much fun onboarding to MCR, we can’t wait for the sequel. Let’s just call it MCR2 for now, but this is necessary to pick up on the things that don’t work as intended, pick up further process efficiencies that can be achieved and to resolve the unintended consequences around related processes that weren’t covered by Teachers’ Pensions from the outset.