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Lords set to back pension victims

‘Let us hope Gordon Brown has the courage to finally end this scandal’

The Government faces an embarrassing defeat in the House of Lords this week over its treatment of victims of occupational pension scheme wind-ups.

Peers are expected to vote for amendments in the current Pensions Bill that call for Financial Assistance Scheme payments to be raised to the levels of the Pension Protection Fund and ensure victims get help as soon as possible.

The amendments also call for a lifeboat fund to be set up to help victims using scheme assets and unclaimed assets.

Similar amendments were only narrowly defeated in the House of Commons in April by a majority of 22 – 282 to 260 – but are likely to be supported in the Lords.

If the amendments are successful, they will return to the Commons for the third reading of the bill although the Government can force through the bill if necessary.

Pension victims are due to protest again about the Government’s behaviour on the issue by stripping off on Parliament Green to coincide with the vote.

Pension consultant Ros Altmann says: “The recent extensions of the FAS, while welcome, cannot actually resolve this scandal. Now that he is about to be prime minister, Gordon Brown will be free to look at the bigger picture and make his own decisions. He says he admires courage. Let us hope that he has the courage to finally and urgently end this scandal in a fair and decent way.”

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson says: “The Government has made a number of reasonable concessions on this matter and it will not want to go further. But with Brown about to become prime minister, it is difficult to predict whether or not further movement will come following this vote.”

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