Socialist Worker

Government rejects official report criticising its pension handling

Around 85,000 workers are still without compensation

Issue No. 1993

The government last week arrogantly rejected an official report which called for it to compensate 85,000 people who have lost all or part of their company pensions.

The parliamentary ombudsman, Ann Abraham, made the ruling after finding the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guilty of maladministration.

She said official guidance on company pension schemes had been “inaccurate, incomplete, unclear and inconsistent”.

But Tony Blair said the government would not pay compensation. The government has twice altered the minimum funding requirement for companies to put money into pension funds, saving bosses hundred of millions of pounds but pushing some funds into crisis.

One lesson of this crisis is that everyone needs a proper state run system which delivers guaranteed results, with low collection costs and without the parasitical drain of private operators.

Willie Riggins was the T&G convenor at United Engineering Forgings (UEF) in Ayr. UEF went into administration in June 2001 with a shortfall in its pension fund of £12 million. The staff saw huge cuts in their lump sum and weekly pension entitlement when UEF was declared insolvent.

Willie Riggins told Socialist Worker, “I was over the moon when the ombudsman’s report came out because it confirmed that we had been right all along.

“But then came the response from the government, and it was a disgrace and an embarrassment. I speak as someone who is a fully paid up member of the Labour Party, with a very good local MP, Sandra Osborne.

“We paid into our pension scheme for years – only to see it snatched away.”

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Sat 25 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1993
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