A CAMPAIGNER is delighted the Government is to pump another £2.9 billion into the fund which helps workers who lost their pensions when their companies went bust.
Former employees of Ellesmere Port steel cladding firm HH Robertson faced a pensions “black hole” of £6m, when the firm went into receivership in 1997.
For the past couple of years they have been receiving 80% of their pensions from an emergency fund– the Financial Assistance Scheme – set up by the Government in 2004.
Now, in a move announced by Work and Pensions Minister Peter Hain in Parliament on Monday, they and the thousands of other workers in a similar position will get 90% of the value of their pensions.
Brian Jones, who was a union convener at Robertson’s and has waged a decade-long battle for a fairer deal for its pensioners, said: “This is marvellous news and a great Christmas present.
“I have been campaigning for a fair settlement since 1997 and this makes all the struggle seem worthwhile.
“I estimate this affects about 1,000 Robertson pensioners, some of whom have already retired and some who are still working.
“I have been living on only about half of what I expected to be drawing in my pension.”
The boost follows a sustained campaign from workers, and criticism from MPs, the Parliamentary Ombudsman and others.
Peter Hain said the money would deliver justice to workers “cruelly robbed” of their pensions “through no fault of their own”.
The settlement will benefit 130,000 workers already eligible for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) and another 11,000 workers who are members of failed pension schemes belonging to solvent employers.
Under the proposals, workers will now be entitled to 90% of their expected pension, and not the narrower “core pension” protected under the original terms of the FAS.
Borough MP Andrew Miller said: “This comes as a lovely Christmas bonus for the former Robertson’s people.
“It’s a good news all round. Those who have already got their pension money from the FSA will now see it increased and those who haven’t will be assured of getting a decent amount in the future.”