Attacks on steel workers’ pensions at Tata have led to a “feeding frenzy” of advisers and fraudsters looking to cash in, according to a financial adviser.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is investigating claims that unscrupulous pension transfer advisers are targeting workers at Tata’s Port Talbot plant.
Tata has attacked the pensions of around 130,000 workers both current and retired in a deal cooked up with unions.
Workers have the “option” of shifting their assured benefits to the Pension Protection Fund or a new retirement scheme backed by Tata.
Both will lead to lower pension payouts.
Confusion over the options has led to many workers transferring their pensions to risker arrangements.
British Steel pension fund trustees have received requests for around 11,000 quotes for pension transfers since April.
Around 1,700 workers have transferred their pensions. Regulators have heard reports of “curry and chips” events where people attending pension transfer seminars receive free food.
Other reports detail how steel workers have been targeted with marketing leaflets on transfers.
Henry Tapper, a director at First Actuarial, described one worker asking for a justification of a 2 percent up front charge.
He was told “this was what the FCA suggested”, said Tapper. “We did not see any justification for these costs.”
The FCA said it was investigating concerns that workers “are being approached by firms who may not be regulated by the FCA”.
And Tata is investigating claims that a manager at Port Talbot steelworks received payments for referring
colleagues to a firm scouting for business for financial advisers.
Several current and former workers have said the manager receivedn £35-£50 for each successful referral.
Hefty charges on benefit helplines are still in place despite government promises to scrap the 0345 numbers.
Ministers last month axed Universal Credit helpline charges of up to 55p a minute from a mobile.
But numbers on winter fuel allowance, carers’ allowance and child support are still in use.
Beware of the right wing ‘anti-extremist’
The shadowy “anti-extremist” group Quilliam Foundation got itself some headlines this week with “research” into the ethnicity of sex abusers.
The group is seeking to diversify from being trotted out whenever the media needs someone to demand Muslims apologise for a terrorist attack.
It used to hoover up millions from Labour and Tory governments to battle “extremism”.
Most of the initial money for the Islamophobic Prevent Programme went into its coffers.
It tried to rehabilitate Tommy Robinson, former leader of the racist English Defence League (EDL), in 2013, claiming he had changed his ways,
When the open government cash ran out, the group dug deep into the pockets of the US hard right.
That included Frank Gaffney, the chief inspiration for Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the US.
Holy relics of the royal parasites are going up. A lock of Prince Charles’ hair is expected to fetch £500 at auction as we go to press.
That’s double the price that strands from Princess Diana can be got for.
Charles’ one-inch curl was kept by his barber in the 1960s. Diana gave hers to a friend.
Women in prison have suffered abuse
Women who are in prison have often been victims of much more serious offences than the crimes they have been convicted of.
That’s according to a new report published this week by the Prison Reform Trust.
It found that 57 percent of women in prison report having suffered domestic violence.
More than half report having experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child compared to 27 percent of men.
The charity Women in Prison added that 79 percent of the women who use its services have experienced domestic violence and/or sexual abuse.
Locked up for reporting crime
A disabled woman is suing police who “forgot” she was in a station and locked her in when it shut.
Patience Tagarira arrived at the desk at 7.30pm to report a traffic accident she witnessed.
She was put in a waiting room in Luton nick and told someone would take a statement.
But after being told staff would still be in to deal with her and let her out when doors were locked at 8pm, no one came.
She banged on a window but was not released until officers in a car spotted her at 9.45pm.
Bedfordshire Police apologised but said it was a simple error.
Their lawyers said they “accepted officers failed to communicate”.