UK - The government has admitted that the Financial Assistance Scheme is "technically defective" and is struggling to meet its April 2005 deadline.
Pensions minister Baroness Hollis agreed with criticism from opposition peers that the lack of detail about the scheme was “unsatisfactory” and admitted that 14 key areas were yet to be worked out.
Hollis said: “I agree it is technically defective on about 14 counts. It certainly gives me no pleasure to bring [forward] these clauses, which I accept absolutely are framework provisions.
“I do not recall during my years in opposition in the House that any government thought to bring forward a scheme of such complexity, as inevitably the FAS scheme will be, from a cold-standing start.”
She added no more detail could be included in the Pensions Bill because the government lacked data on the 65,000 members who had lost their pensions through company insolvency.
But added: “Once we have that information we then still have to make very difficult decisions about, for example, the extent to which a scheme should be included when the winding-up has not yet been completed and whether we should make distinctions between those close to retirement age and those further away, who may be in a position to rectify the situation.”
Her comments followed criticism by Conservative Lord Higgins, who accused the Treasury of purposefully withholding detailed information on the scheme until it was made law in order to prevent it being amended.
He said: “If I were very cynical I would say that the danger is that the Treasury would double-cross those who did not revolt and defeat the government in the Commons.”
Ex-BHS owner Dominic Chappell has been ordered to pay a total of £87,000 in fines and court costs after he was found guilty of failing to provide The Pensions Regulator (TPR) with information.
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