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British Steel and Cypriot advice: the week in news

British Steel and Cypriot advice: the week in news

The country descended into chaos this week as frozen water fell from the skies onto the streets of Britain, distracting us all from the chaos surrounding the Brexit negotiations.

When the country's public transport system was back up and running, eventually, enough people were able to turn up to work to generate some news. Let's see what happened.

1) The Nightmare Before Christmas

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The problems facing members of the British Steel Pension Scheme continue, and appear to worsen as more is uncovered.

This week many of those involved appeared before the work and pensions select committee in parliament to explain to MPs what had gone wrong.

The committee was told around 13,000 steelworkers who requested a pension transfer value from the scheme have struggled to find a qualified adviser to help them using the Financial Conduct Authority register, according to one witness.

Steelworkers have until 22 December to decide whether to move their defined benefit (DB) pension pots to a new plan being created, BSPS II, or stay in the current fund, which will be moved to the Pension Protection Fund.

A financial adviser and the director of an unregulated introducer it used to bring in pension transfer clients among British Steel workers both failed to show up to the hearing to give evidence.

But another financial adviser working with members of the troubled British Steel pension scheme has criticised attacks in the media on those helping steelworkers transfer out of their lucrative defined benefit pensions.

Mark Abley, managing director of the Durham-based Pension Review Service, said there was a "trial by social media being conducted" on financial advisers involved in the case.

2) (Waspi concerns) Die Hard

An unstoppable force has met and immovable object in the form of the campaign to address the issue of state pensions for women born in the 1950s continues and the government's refusal to budge.

This week pensions minister dismissed calls to help women affect by an increase in the state pension age, saying it would increase inequality.

Mr Opperman said: “Full compensation would represent a cost of over £77bn to the public purse.

“These changes would require new legislation, which could mean an inequality potentially being created between men and women.”

Waspi claims that while the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act included plans to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

3) The Postal Express

At this time of year we all gather together to spend time with the people we love (and some people we put up with) but Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are using the festive period to discuss the creation of a collective defined contribution (CDC) scheme to solve the current pensions dispute.

This is one of the recommendations of a report prepared by professor Lynette Harris, who has mediated talks between the postal company and the union under dispute resolution procedures.