UK - The government has avoided a major backbench rebellion over pensions by promising more public money to restore the savings pots of people who lost out when their companies went bust.
MPs overturned a Lords amendment, opposed by ministers, for a “lifeboat fund” by 303 votes to 253, a government majority of 50.
Earlier, Mike O’Brien, pensions minister, told MPs the government would match any extra funds identified by actuaries in schemes that had gone under.
While declining to put a figure on how much more funding would be available, he said it could be found from within the Department for Work and Pensions budget.
O’Brien’s promise of some extra government funds was aimed at defusing a parliamentary revolt that would have committed the government to lending extra cash to the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) with no guarantee that the taxpayer would get any money back.
The crunch vote came after an interim report from senior government actuary Andrew Young earlier this week, which said using unclaimed pension assets to boost the pensions of those who lost out could be a legal and administrative minefield.
Despite this, Young said the review team believed the issue deserved further investigation and more work was needed for the final report, which is due to be published later this year.
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