Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
Nick Smith MP has used the Budget debate to call on the Government to protect South Wales steelworkers from a “feeding frenzy” that could destroy their pensions.
More than 130,000 current and former steelworkers are facing a December deadline to decide what to do with their British Steel pensions.
With a huge demand for guidance from the workforce, it has raised concerns that steelworkers at Port Talbot’s Tata plant are vulnerable to being targeted by unscrupulous pension transfer advisers.
There are fears that workers are being mis-sold risky pension investments -; complete with massive admin fees -; that could decimate their funds for the years ahead.
With many workers and former workers at the site from Blaenau Gwent, Mr Smith called for immediate action in Parliament from the Government to “avoid potential disaster for many”.
“It would be heartbreaking if, facing the pressure to make a decision, workers were pressed into a life-altering decision that destroyed their futures,” he said.
“Futures where they wanted to enjoy the fruits of their labour, or need help with the costs of care.”
Mr Smith has asked for the Government to assess the situation at Port Talbot to see if any action should be taken, and also to consider extending the December deadline to ease the pressure on the decision for workers.
Immediately after his speech, it was announced that The Pensions Advisory Service would be opening a hotline providing impartial guidance for British Steel Pension members.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Smith said the Government had a duty of care after introducing laws in 2015 that allow people freedom to access their pension funds after 55.
“There will be workers all over Gwent who are faced with probably the biggest decision for the rest of their lives”, he said.
“This pension pot is not only important to enjoy retirement, but also to protect against the costs of care. They have been paying in for decades, contributing to our industry and economy with their sweat and toil, and they deserve support and protection at this important juncture.”
As part of the restructuring deal cut in August to help keep the steelmaker afloat, members of the £15bn British Steel pension fund have been given the option to shift their pensions to the Pension Protection Fund or a new retirement scheme backed by Tata.
But for those members who have yet to claim their pension, they are also able to transfer their pensions into personal investments.
Since April, the British Steel pension fund trustees have been asked for around 11,000 quotes for pension transfers, with an estimated 1,700 members then transferring their benefits.
If you are a British Steel Pension member and want guidance on your pension options, call 0207 932 9522
Nick’s budget speech can be seen at http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/d9ac6d17-0222-4489-99c7-862d43f1c20b.
For a full copy of the text, visit https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2017-11-23a.1213.0&s=pension+speaker%3A24728#g1245.0