Press Release – Hurray, Government is guilty!

by Dr. Ros Altmann

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So, there we have it.  The Government must accept its guilt in misleading the public about the safety of their pensions.  DWP denials of any wrongdoing have yet again been ridiculed.  Will Ministers now agree to own up to their mistakes and pay proper compensation to those who have lost their life savings in pension schemes that the Government said were safe and protected by the law?  So far, our shameless, heartless leaders have just ignored every wake-up call and prolonged this dreadful injustice.

This is the third damning indictment of the Government’s behaviour over this pension scandal – a scandal created by Ministers who keep claiming that those who lost their pensions cannot be helped any more because taxpayers’ money has to be spent wisely, but who meanwhile vote themselves huge pensions at taxpayers’ expense.

The Government says it has set aside a figure of around £2billion for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) but this is little more than spin.  Of the 10,000 or so people past their pension age, less than 1,000 have received any money at all, despite millions of pounds being spent on administration and staffing costs.  So taxpayers’ money is being wasted on an assistance scheme which is not providing assistance to those who need it  -as well as on lawyers being asked to defend the indefensible to avoid Ministers having to take responsibility for their actions.

The Government has tried to claim this scandal is everyone else’s fault and that it has done absolutely nothing wrong.  It says it acted perfectly properly all along and that nobody should have relied on the public information it produced, even though it said – at the time – this was being produced to help explain pensions properly to people, from a source they could trust!   This claim has been undermined yet again and one has to ask whether those in charge of the DWP really actually understand what they are doing. 

When it comes to pensions, this Government has made such a mess of so many areas.  It’s time to start putting things right.  There is plenty of money in unclaimed assets that can be used to compensate the victims of this dreadful pensions scandal, but only Government can organise a rescue scheme.  It must take on this responsibility immediately, no more delays, no more fighting, let’s just sort this out and allow these good people to get on with their lives.

Over half of all the MPs in the Commons have now signed Early Day Motions calling for proper compensation for those affected.  Today’s ruling establishes beyond doubt that the Government is guilty of maladministration.  It can no longer pretend it has done nothing wrong.  Now is the time for action.  Our democracy depends on the adherence to proper safeguards and no Government should be allowed to undermine our constitution in this cavalier fashion.  This is a good day for justice – let us hope it will be the start of a final resolution to this awful scandal.


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