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An indefensible position on pension victims

In times of uncertainty, consistency of thought and action is normally something to be valued, particularly from a democratically elected Government.

When this consistency is in the field of pensions, it would normally be especially appreciated, coming as it does in the middle of one of the most turbulent periods for pensions in living memory.

However, like a drunk at a line-dance, the Government has chosen a course of action that puts it at odds with almost everyone else with an interest in or even a passing knowledge of pensions.

The one feature of its pension policy that the Government seems determined not to be moved on is the one area where you will be hard pressed to find a single voice to speak up in its defence – compensating the estimated 125,000 people who lost out on their company pension when their employers collapsed.

Those people who have lost some or all of their occupational pensions were dealt a further blow last week when pensions minister James Purnell confirmed there would be no more state assistance other than that originally announced.

Why the Government seems so determined not to change its mind on this issue when it has proved to be more than happy to do a U-turn on the inclusion of residential property in self-invested personal pensions and seems poised to do an another one on alternatively secured pensions is anyone’s guess.

It is perhaps a sign that even the Government is starting find its position hard to defend when it is resorting to releasing its statements in written form and on a day when the entire committee it was addressed to was out of the country.

A cowardly act from an arrogant Government only too happy to ride roughshod over the constitution and individuals’ rights.

Now we are expected to trust the Government to deliver a national pensions savings scheme in the knowledge that if it does go wrong, it will simply wash its hands of any blame quicker than you can say maladministration.


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