Bill calls for government compensation in pensions issue

Bill calls for government compensation in pensions issue

Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead, has tabled a private member’s bill in Parliament that calls for compensation to members of pensions schemes that have collapsed or been closed. The bill would institute a levy on unclaimed bank and building society assets, which would be used to pay the compensation. Mr. Field is a former government minister who has criticized the government for its handling of the pension scheme issue.

Private member’s bills rarely go on to become law, but Mr. Field’s bill is seen as a way to put further pressure on the government to do something about the growing number of individuals affected by the collapse or closure of their pensions schemes. Four hundred schemes have closed with deficits between 1997 and 2005, affecting up to 85,000 people who lost part or all of their pensions. Currently, the Financial Assistance Scheme offers only limited help to those individuals, while the Pension Protection Fund only helps people whose schemes have collapse since April 2005.

A High Court ruling last month found that the government had wrongly rejected the conclusion of Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham that it had administered the pensions schemes badly. However, the ruling did not mean that the government must compensate all the victims of closed schemes for their losses.

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