The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has hit back at claims made by Sir Philip Green that there has been a lack of engagement over plans to deal with the British Home Stores (BHS) Pension Scheme deficit.
Speaking in front of the Work and Pensions Select Committee today Green said that while he had been engaging regularly with the Pension Protection Fund on developing a solution he had had no contact with TPR, most notably its chief executive Lesley Titcomb.
"TPR's Lesley Titcomb has been here to see you and said TPR had been looking at BHS since 2013," he said. "Is it conceivable then by June 2016 we haven't had a call or email from her to try and fix it?"
He continued: "By some quirk of fate in the last week we have had a phone call from the regulator to say they would be interested in having a meeting. This is strange given the silence up until now. However, we do seem to have some light at the end of the tunnel."
Responding to the claims a TPR spokesperson made the following statements:
• It is not true to say we are refusing to engage with Sir Philip Green, or his advisers, regarding the BHS pension scheme.
• Our door is always open to discuss credible proposals and we have made initial contact with Sir Philip's advisers to remind them of this point following comments that we have not engaged with them.
• We will consider any credible and reasonable proposals that are put to us but we have not received details of any new proposal from Sir Philip Green or his advisers.
• Where we are approached about a transaction or a restructuring of a pension scheme, we can work quickly if we are provided with all the information we need to make a decision. Clearly this requires the cooperation of all parties and we cannot agree to anything in the absence of credible proposals that satisfies the necessary legal, and where appropriate, published policy criteria.
• As a regulator, we seek to ensure that members get the benefits they have been promised. Only when we are convinced that this is not possible will we look at other options that may be available within the pensions regulatory framework.
The spokesperson also noted that Titcomb joined TPR as chief executive in March 2015.
They added: "We have been engaging with BHS and its advisers since 2014 in exploring different proposed solutions for the pension scheme. This engagement included direct communications with Sir Philip Green."
For more information about TPR's involvement with the BHS pension scheme, see below.
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