Pensions Ombudsman  

MP requests 6-month extension for British Steel ombudsman claims

MP requests 6-month extension for British Steel ombudsman claims

Labour MP Nick Smith is writing to the Pension Ombudsman to request a six-month extension for British Steel workers to submit claims to the ombudsman, so the issues involved can be considered in depth.

In a meeting with MPs yesterday (January 28), Alastair Rush, principal at Rutland-based Echelon Wealthcare, Philippa Hann - managing director of litigation at Clarke Willmott - and Robert Welch, a BSPS pensioner who has been helping former colleagues with information, urged MPs to act quickly following the Pensions Ombudsman's latest ruling on the British Steel Pension Scheme.

Earlier this month, the Pensions Ombudsman rejected four complaints about the scheme trustees. They centred on the alleged lack of information provided on cash equivalent transfer values and early retirement factors at the point when steelworkers had to decide whether to move their defined benefit pension pots to a new scheme.

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Mr Smith, who represents constituents in Blaenau Gwent, has agreed to write to the ombudsman to request a six-month extension on the current February 3 deadline for steelworker complaints.

The extension would allow time for further claims to be submitted and, advocates believe, allow the Pensions Ombudsman to thoroughly consider the issues raised.

Mr Smith has also urged the Pensions Ombudsman to share information on how the trustees of the British Steel Pension Scheme calculated CETVs both before and after April 2017, in the belief this could potentially solve many issues for steelworkers.

BSPS members were asked to decide by December 2017 whether to move their DB pension to a new plan, BSPS II, or stay in the existing fund, which was then moved to the Pension Protection Fund as part of a restructuring of pension liabilities.

The calculation methodology behind CETVs and ERFs was changed on April 1 2017, meaning members who requested a transfer value or retired early from the BSPS after that date received significantly higher benefits than those who had already transferred out or taken early retirement.

As part of yesterday’s meeting, MPs also agreed to put pressure on the Financial Services Compensation Scheme over the way steelworkers' pension compensation has been calculated.

They want the lifeboat scheme to justify how it calculated compensation for steelworkers who were misadvised to transfer out of the BSPS, saying the compensation “is too low for the scale of the losses”.

Last year a group of some 100 steelworkers met with representatives of Clarke Willmott, and at least 40 of them came forward with a complaint.

These complaints will be brought to advice firms in the first instance and could then land at the Financial Ombudsman Service, or the FSCS were the advice firms to cease trading.

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