Defined Benefit  

Pension rescued from PPF for first time in history

Pension rescued from PPF for first time in history

A failed defined benefit pension scheme has been lifted out of the Pension Protection Fund for the first time in its history, the lifeboat fund has confirmed.

The scheme in question had been attached to car parts supplier Covpress, which went into administration in September 2016.

That resulted in the PPF taking over responsibility for the DB scheme.

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However, following the purchase of Covpress by Liberty House, the latter agreed to rescue the scheme from the PPF.

A spokesperson for the PPF confirmed it was the first time a new company had lifted a scheme out of the lifeboat fund.

The spokesperson said: "The PPF acts as a safety net for scheme members whose sponsoring employer has gone into administration, providing them with compensation for their retirement savings.

"In this instance we were not needed as the purchaser of the Covpress business voluntarily agreed to take on responsibility for the pension scheme. This has achieved a better result for the scheme members and the PPF."

Timothy Sharples, partner with pension specialists Lane Clark & Peacock LLP, who advised Liberty said: “LCP was able to help Liberty House to assess whether the potential advantages from the purchase would be sufficient to cover the additional risks that the business would have from the pension scheme.

"The solution is a good outcome for all the parties concerned; particularly the members of the pension scheme who can now look forward to receiving their benefits in full rather than reduced benefits from the Pension Protection Fund.”

Members of schemes that fall into the PPF must take a 10 per cent cut to their benefits.

Alan Solomons, director of Alpha Investments & Financial Planning, said he did not expect many companies to follow the lead of Liberty House.

He said most potential buyers of struggling businesses with large pension deficits would prefer to leave them to "go belly up and let the PPF pick up the tab".

He said the PPF's 90 per cent guarantee sounded okay, but pointed out that it had a cap of just over £37,000 a year.

"If you're looking forward to a pension of £60,000 a year, and then find out you're only going to get £37,000 a year, that would be absolutely calamitous to you," he said.

james.fernyhough@ft.com