UK - Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith has rejected calls for the government to compensate Maxwell Communications Pensions Plan members who have seen their benefits halved.
The members want the government to plug a £79m deficit in their scheme.
But Smith said they should be targeting the scheme’s independent trustee, Law Debenture, for compensation or for a restoration of benefits.
The government has been linked to the scheme since 1995 when it agreed to a settlement negotiated by Lord Cuckney.
The deal gave the four Maxwell schemes tax breaks and donations to replace the £460m, which the late media tycoon, Robert Maxwell, stole from them.
The deal has proved insufficient to cover the MCPP’s full deficit, which has grown from £10m in 1999 to £40m.
During a parliamentary debate, Conservative deputy chief whip Patrick McLoughlin attacked the government and demanded to know what action it will take to help MCPP members.
However, Smith said: “This is a matter between the pension fund trustees, Law Debenture, and the members of the scheme.
“We greatly regret and sympathise with the position in which the pensioners have been put, but the government has honoured in full the terms of the agreement brokered by Lord Cuckney and introduced under the previous government.”
Law Debenture director Eddie Thomas countered: “The plight of the Maxwell pensioners should be a red light to members of final salary schemes.
“We urge the government to study the lessons of Maxwell and take a lead on this very important issue, to ensure that never again will ordinary pensioners find themselves so vulnerable to loss.”
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