Defined Benefit  

British Steel pensioners take out more than £200m in transfers

British Steel pensioners take out more than £200m in transfers

More than 7,000 members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) have requested a transfer value quotation between April and September this year.

According to information disclosed on the scheme’s website, more than 700 requests totalling more than £200m were concluded or are being processed during that period.

The last transfer figures announced in March showed 482 transfers made in a year, more than double the number of the previous year, of 170.

“Record low gilt yields combined with uncertainty over the future of BSPS has created an unprecedented interest in transferring out benefits,” the scheme said.

In August, Tata Steel UK (TSUK) got the go-ahead to offload BSPS and create a new defined benefit (DB) fund.

As part of the deal, The Pension Regulator gave its formal approval to a regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA).

Some 130,000 members have to choose by 11 December if they want to be transferred to a new scheme being created, BSPS II, or remain in the old DB plan which will be moved to the lifeboat scheme, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Henry Tapper, pensions expert and founder of Pension Playpen, said that “many more requests for transfer value quotations have been received” since September.

He said: “Best guesses are that of the 42,000 or so eligible for a transfer, most are considering their options.”

Pension scheme members have been sent document packs by BSPS trustees which supposedly give them all the information they need about their individual circumstances to make an informed decision.

However, according to a document from the scheme trustees seen by FTAdviser, in around 4,300 of these individuals’ packs there is a lack of data, such as not having an employment starting date, incorrect estimates of the pension value, or even no individual figures at all.

The regulator is currently investigating this matter, as thousands of members are being forced to make a decision about their financial future without vital information.

According to Alistair Cunningham, financial planning director at Surrey-based Wingate Financial Planning, it is very difficult for BSPS members to get professional advice.

He said: “Whilst I can understand members’ concerns it is near impossible for an adviser to give any guidance due to the way the changes to the scheme have been managed.

“As a firm, we have declined to advise some members, which is unfortunate, but necessary for the reasons above.”

maria.espadinha@ft.com