British Steel Pension Scheme: Transfers — [Mr George Howarth in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons) 9:30 am, 10th April 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered pension transfers and the British Steel pension scheme.

For many of us, pensions are a distant, complex and opaque topic. Everyone hopes that their pension will provide financial security for their family’s future. It is often the single biggest pot of money that anyone will have, but that makes pension pots ideal targets for mis-selling. Unfortunately, in recent years pensions mis-selling has got worse. Since further pension freedoms were brought in four years ago, it is easier to transfer out of defined-benefit pension schemes. More than 200,000 people have done that, but as transfers have increased, so have the problems. The compensation paid out for poor transfer advice increased to £40 million last year.

I called for this debate because of a specific mis-selling crisis that affected hundreds and potentially thousands of people across south Wales in particular. Two years ago, the British Steel pension scheme began to restructure its fund after a difficult period for the industry. Scheme members had a hard deadline to make a critical decision: they could go into a new scheme, be defaulted into a lifeboat fund or transfer out. They had to decide against a backdrop of serious uncertainty about the scheme and the industry. The scheme’s administrators were under enormous pressure, with 4,000 calls a day. Vital information about pension advisers from the Financial Conduct Authority was often highly technical. All that helped to create a perfect storm.