UK pensions minister Jeff Rooker turned down proposals from his own backbench for new legislation on ill-health pensions and greater scheme members' rights.
Ben Chapman - Labour MP for Wirral South - asked Rooker a series of questions on behalf of two of his constituents. One was refused an ill-health pension by the Marconi The GEC 1972 Plan while the other had been refused a promised non-contributory pension by Cammel Laird Holdings scheme.
Rooker was asked what plans he has to compel pension trusts to divulge the reason for refusal of ill-health pension applications.
Rooker responded: “Where an ill-health pension application has been rejected, the member can ask for the matter to be reconsidered under the scheme's internal dispute resolution procedure and can seek assistance from the Office for Pensions Advisory Service (OPAS). If he remains dissatisfied he can make a complaint to the pensions ombudsman.”
Chapman then asked the minister his plans to ensure that members of pension funds have a right to be consulted before trusts are restructured and when members are transferred to other schemes.
Rooker replied: “Employers who provide occupational pension schemes do so voluntarily and, ultimately, they decide the nature of the scheme and its benefit structure. Trustees are required to provide extensive information to members about the scheme and their rights to pension benefits.
“Generally, members must consent to a transfer of their accrued pension rights to another pension scheme. When employers are taken over, merge, or restructure their pension provision a consequent bulk transfer of members' accrued rights can be made without consent, provided that an actuary certifies that the rights to be acquired in the receiving scheme are broadly no less favourable than the rights to be transferred.”
Chapman told PP that he intends to raise his concerns again in the new parliament.
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