Defined Benefit  

Tpas steps in to help Carillion pension savers

Tpas steps in to help Carillion pension savers

Guidance body The Pensions Advisory Service (Tpas) has set up a dedicated helpline for members of the Carillion pension schemes.

The defined benefit (DB) pension schemes of Carillion, one of the UK government's biggest contractors, will enter the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Carillion has 13 final salary schemes in the UK with more than 28,500 members, and a deficit of £587m at the end of July.

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After unsuccessful talks with its lenders and the UK government, Carillion made an application on Monday (15 January) to the High Court for compulsory liquidation.

The accountancy firm PWC has been appointed as administrator.

Seven pension funds have already entered a period of assessment at the pensions lifeboat, which have around 5,900 members, a spokesperson at the PPF said.

The Tpas hotline, available on 0800 756 1012, was set up for members that have questions and concerns about the future of their pensions.

Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of Tpas, told FTAdviser that setting up a specific hotline allows the guidance body to better collect management information on the volumes and types of calls.

She said: “We can do this on our core helpline but it is quicker and easier if we have a dedicated number.”

Also, with a specific number, the technical specialists answering the calls benefits from studying the specifics of the scheme, which is useful for processes where members are being asked to choose options where its scheme is going through a specific change, she added.

Tpas also sets up specific hotlines in cases where there are deadlines for the customers that they need to meet, Ms Cracknell said.

This was the case of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) members, for whom Tpas also set up a dedicated number in November.

Steelworkers had until 22 December to decide whether to move their DB pension pots to a new plan being created, BSPS II, or stay in the current fund, which will be moved to the PPF.

Ms Cracknell said that there is not a dedicated person responsible for each hotline, but several, as the majority of cases are dealt with in one interaction.

She said: “We absorb peaks in our business through management of resource. We are recruiting currently to get our full headcount so this is not because of Carillion.

“We have and will continue to use dedicated helplines for specific cases where appropriate.”

Carillion, which employs about 43,000 people, has been struggling for several months, issuing a profit warning last year that sank its share price – which has fallen from more than £2 a year ago to about 14.2p on Monday.

On the same day, Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd submitted a motion in Parliament calling for an inquiry into collapsed Carillion.

FTAdviser reported yesterday that there are already signs that scammers may be circling the company’s DB scheme members.

maria.espadinha@ft.com