Stephen Kinnock met with the Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, for a frank exchange of views about the government’s handling of the changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).
Last year, Mr Kinnock wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions calling on the government to take action to ensure that the Financial Conduct Authroity (FCA) took proper steps to protect pensioners from cowboy financial advisers. Kinnock also urged the government to heed the calls of Unions and the BSPS Trustees for the default option for savers, when there was actuarial proof it was in savers financial interests, to be transfer into the BSPS II, rather than being dropped into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
The Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, met with Kinnock on Tuesday 30 January 2018 to discuss these issues. Commenting on the meeting Aberavon MP, Stephen Kinnock, said:
“The Minister agreed to look at changing the way the FCA deals with cases of potentially fraudulent pension advisors. And promised to work with Labour MPs on ensuring that the Single Financial Guidance Body is established and that it serves as a clear point of contact for all pensioners seeking independent and impartial advice.
“Last year I urged the government to change to rules so that the default option for steel pensioners would be, where there was actuarial proof it was in their best financial interests, to transfer into the new BSPS II scheme.
“This proposal for ‘deemed consent’ was endorsed by both Trade Unions and the Trustees, and would have ensured that steelworkers received the best financial option for them as their default, and it would have allowed the Trustees to focus all their resources on the most complex cases while still allowing pensioners the full range of options.
“Unfortunately the government rejected these calls, but the Trustees should, nonetheless, be commended for their proactive work to reach as many steelworkers and pensioners as possible.
“However, some pensioners could not be contacted, and, due to a breakdown in trust, many chose not to engage. It is disappointing that the government wouldn’t make the chances we called for to ensure that those people got the best possible pension deal available to them.
“While I understand the arguments of the Minister against these changes, I do not agree with them, and the fact remains, had those changes been made thousands of pensioners who did not engage in the process would have been better off.