Saga fights for pensions justice

Tuesday 15 August 2006

Saga fights for pensions justice

Saga has joined the fight for justice for up to 125,000 people that the Government has abandoned following the collapse of company pension schemes.

As ministers set off on their holidays, they should spare a thought for these people who cannot afford a holiday at all. The pensions they saved for all their lives and which Government always said were safe, have been taken away from them by laws which they were told would actually protect them. Their retirement plans have been destroyed, without warning.

Tim Bull, Director of the Saga Group, said:

"People believed the Government when it said that company pension schemes were unassailable - but despite both the Parliamentary Ombudsman and Public Administration Select Committee urging action the Government remains deaf to their plight. It appears that the checks and balances on Government no longer work and this issue is now not only about those suffering a miserable retirement but about democracy itself."

Commenting on why Saga has taken a public stance on this issue, Emma Soames, Editor of Saga Magazine said:

"We were struck by the response to a story about this issue in the Saga Magazine. The unjust treatment of up to 125,000 fellow Britons clearly touched a nerve. Our readers believe that people who have been prudent and careful and followed Government advice should not be abandoned. We have also been touched by the nature of the personal stories people have told us."

Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of this scandal is the way the Government has been spinning numbers. It has used questionable methodology to arrive at what it calls a 'cash'cost of 15bn to solve this issue. But the actual cost in today's money is estimated at 3bn spread over 60 years - and that bill will be reduced by the claw back of taxes, and reduction in the benefits that victims of failed schemes now have to claim to make ends meet.

Dr. Ros Altmann, pensions expert and spokesperson for the Pensions Action Group, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Saga with its 2 million customers are joining this campaign. We are talking about a gross injustice, that the Government is morally obliged to fix and that the nation is well able to afford. After all, the Chancellor has taken well over 3bn out of pensions funds every year since 1997."

Tim Bull said: "Saga is pressing for assistance for victims of failed schemes now - there are thousands of people of retirement age already in economic limbo. But there are also the wider implications of rebuilding faith in the future of pensions. How can the Government encourage people to save for their retirement if people who did just that are left without the pensions Government always assured them were safe?"

Saga is calling for Government to rescue the members of failed pension schemes, and is urging its two million customers, readers of the Saga Magazine and Saga Radio listeners to lobby their Member of Parliament to call for justice to be done.

We know that complete U-turns from Government are rare, but natural justice demands just that. Urgent action is needed. The Government must organise proper compensation in line with the recommendations of both its own Ombudsman and Parliamentary Select Committee.

The longer this issue remains unresolved, the more it will damage confidence in both pensions and the Government. These people did everything right, they played by the rules, saved for their retirement and are now being punished for it. We must not allow this to continue.

Everyone can find out more, and join our campaign, by visiting the Saga magazine website and signing up to our Campaign for Pensions Justice.

Tim Bull said: "Many pensioners and those planning for their retirement are sick with worry about their future. It is time the government recognised the strength of feeling and the depth of the injustice. Saga is proud to support this campaign for Pensions Justice."


For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.

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