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‘Chink of light’ in pension fight

Altmann calls Hutton move on state second pension a dawn of realisation

The Government is set to make concessions to people who lost occupational pensions in what could be a “dawn of realisation” that it has mishandled the situation, says former Downing Street pension adviser Ros Altmann.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that he is working on plans to restore the state second pension for people who opted out to join an employer’s scheme which subsequently went bust.

He said: “If you cannot recover or restore the occupa- tional pension, we might be able to restore their rights to the second state pension.”

Altmann says more details are needed to ensure that victims are allowed to return to to the position they would have been in for free – as happened to Robert Maxwell’s victims – rather than through a buyback scheme but that the Government’s announcement was encouraging.

Hutton said the Government is pursuing around 30 firms which have wound up their schemes despite being technically solvent, which Altmann says could help around 10,000 people.

She says her Pensions Action Group is still going ahead with its judicial review against the Government over maladministration although it is monitoring further developments.

The Department for Work and Pensions has two weeks to respond but Altmann says the group will offer the DWP extra time if it wants to mount a serious defence.

She says: “The Government’s announcement could be the first chink of light in our fight. At last, there seems to be a dawn of realisation on the part of the Government although we need to ensure that this will be offered.”

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