UK - Labour backbenchers have pledged to "campaign like fury" against the government to win compensation for scheme members affected by company closures.
A total of 124 Labour backbenchers have signed a House of Commons early day motion – put forward by MP for Cardiff West Kevin Brennan and MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey Derek Wyatt – calling for the government to compensate workers who have lost retirement savings.
The move follows a campaign by the Pensions Action Group which claims that more than 50,000 workers have lost most or, in some cases, all of their pension entitlements when their firms failed.
Brennan said: “It is absolutely unthinkable that people should be encouraged by the government to put their money into these schemes and then lose out.
“We will help them fight for their money – it is a matter of public interest.”
Brennan has applied to become a member of the Pension Bill’s standing committee, which would allow him to make an amendment to include retrospective compensation for scheme members.
Meanwhile, Wyatt wants an independent investigation into why more than 200 schemes have collapsed since 1997 without any warning to members.
Wyatt said a judge needed to ascertain exactly how many schemes had become insolvent in that time and the amount of debt they had left behind.
He said: “I have called for the establishment of a National Occupational Pensions Board to look at scheme wind-ups, but feel we need to know the debt first and the number of schemes.”
But pensions secretary Andrew Smith (pictured) said ministers did not believe an inquiry was necessary as there were “existing avenues that scheme members can pursue if they wish to submit complaints about their pension scheme”.
Former ASW Sheerness employee Andrew Parr applauded the MPs’ support.
He said: “We are getting more support from Labour backbenchers than other parties. The opposition to the government is their own people, which is weird – but we are thankful.”
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