Updated 1st May 2015
EMAG exists to campaign for full government compensation. Will members of EMAG please note that because of pressure of work we regret it is not possible to answer individual written enquiries.
EMAG's 11th hour appeal to David Cameron
Retired helicopter pilot and EMAG activist Tim Oates, hand delivered EMAG's letter to David Cameron's constituency office in Witney on 1 May (see letter contents below).
EMAG's film: “Time for the Treasury to settle its Debts”
EMAG recently filmed a dozen of its aggrieved non-annuitant members
Latest important press article
“Pensioners turn out in force to campaign for their rights
They say they are representing around 10,000 local victim families over the decision of the Government not to fully honour the recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman to compensate 1.3million families for their pension losses caused by decades of regulatory failures that led to the collapse of Equitable Life in 2000. They made their point by displaying a coffin draped with a poster, which read 'Another 15 Equitable Life pensioners died today, waiting for justice'.
They are calling for cross-party political support to get the situation resolved. Colin Downes from EMAG said: “Victims of the 15 year campaign for justice are outraged that despite the Chancellor reporting that the economy is growing and borrowing costs are falling, he has chosen to use Treasury funds to pay down the deficit rather than honour the £3bn debt owed to pensioners.”...
Victim David Ellis said he cannot encourage his family or friends to save into pensions because they cannot trust the Government to honour the published safeguards for their savings...
The virtual collapse of the Equitable Life insurer 15 years ago wiped billions off the value of policyholders' pensions, bonds and other savings plans. It also set in motion a decade-long campaign for redress, resulting in a pledge by the Conservatives that the public purse should compensate for “regulatory maladministration”...
The Government has paid £1bn compensation out of a maximum £1.5bn it earmarked for the redress process. Policyholders, though, want almost £3bn extra in compensation - which would bring the total to £4.3bn.
EMAG spokesperson Paul Weir said: “This is not a charitable payment we're asking for, it's the settlement of a debt. The Government has accepted the calculations of what is owed, and it should pay.”
EMAG's 11th hour appeal to David Cameron
The board of EMAG made an 11th hour appeal in writing to David Cameron and George Osborne, on Thursday 29th April. Read the text here.
What YOU can do in the coming days before the election
- Contact the two leading candidates in your constituency and tell them you will vote for the candidate who supports the payment of the remaining 77% of our compensation.
You might mention:
- You have lost money due to a decade-long failure of the Treasury's regulators.
- Chancellor George Osborne has admitted that we have lost £4.3bn as a result of maladministration, but chose to only pay £1.5 billion of it citing “affordability constraints”, leaving an unsettled debt of £2.8 billion.
- In a court, the defendant does not get to choose how much the fine should be!
- The £2.8 billion is an unpaid debt from the Treasury to 945,000 elderly victims.
- In the context of multi-billion pound bailouts for the banks and ANNUAL public expenditure of £734 billion, our £2.8 billion is peanuts.
- The problem is rooted in the Treasury, where they cannot face up to the fact that IT WAS THEIR FAULT we lost this money - down to the Treasury's negligent regulators.
We want the rest of our compensation paid out to us during the next Parliament and we want the pre-1992 With-Profits Annuitants more fairly compensated - on the same basis as their post-1992 peers.
The result of the coming general election is too close to call! The parties and their candidates will be feeling FEAR OF LOSING.
Please, contact your local candidates by email, letter or phone and tell them they have a choice to *WIN* your vote or *LOSE IT*.
Two letters posted to policyholders
EMAG has posted out TWO letters just in the last fortnight to 40,000 policyholders who reside and vote in the 90 most marginal constituencies. We included in the second letter the contact details for the two main candidates for election in the recipient's constituency. Here's an extract from that letter:
“The result of this election is too close to call - the Parties and their candidates will be feeling a real FEAR OF LOSING. Please, tell your main candidates that they do have a choice to WIN your vote or LOSE IT.
But you need them to tell their Party's hierarchy BEFORE the election, or it will be too late. If you need any help please contact (inserted name of local co-ordinator) and in any event I will be pleased to hear what success you have with lobbying your candidates.”
EMAG's national advertising
For the very first time in EMAG's 14-year history we have been running a national advertising campaign. Buying advertising space as efficiently as we could, we've spent £50,000 - which was a massive discount on rate cards! We ran three different colour full-page ads in the Spectator, two different ones in the high-circulation Private Eye and most recently a full-page black and white ad in the extremely expensive Mail on Sunday on 19 April. Here's that ad's hard-hitting copy - which points out the gobsmacking hypocrisy of David Cameron talking out of both sides of his mouth where we're concerned:
“David Cameron, launching the Conservative Party election campaign on 28th March, said this:
“To the pensioner who put money aside for decades - we are with you. This is the point, the purpose, the whole reason for the Conservative Party... ...This is a generation that stands for one word above any other: duty... and we must always do our duty by them.”
These words ring hollow and hypocritical to nearly a million Equitable Life pension savers who have received only 23p in the pound of the losses the Coalition and the Treasury acknowledged are directly down to regulatory failure. In a Commons debate on 26th February MPs from all Parties approved a Motion that called on the next government to pay out the remaining compensation due over the course of the next Parliament.
There's an outstanding debt of £2.8bn. When the government continues to deny this debt of honour, respect is lost and trust in politicians is damaged. This scandal undermines confidence in the security of pensions for every pension saver in Britain.
On 8th May you, Mr Cameron, may wake up to regret having ignored the million Equitable Life pension savers and their families.
EMAG has fought this injustice for 14 years and we will not rest until this wrong is put right.”
You can view the whole series of EMAG full-page colour ads here.
Sad to report that, despite EMAG and the Regional Team's best endeavours, none of the political Parties included the need to pay the remaining compensation that's due to Equitable Life's short-changed pension savers.
However the EMAG regional team will be organising a vociferous campaign to get across the injustice and outrage, to seek to press serious Parliamentary candidates that this is a live and burning issue that shouldn't continue to be denied.
The Labour Party's shabby response
On 30 January EMAG wrote to Ed Miliband MP to ask for a clear policy from Labour on the prospect of paying more compensation to Equitable Life's victims. Read EMAG's letter here.
Our letter contained three questions: “...In order that EMAG can inform our members I ask you, as Leader of the Labour Party, whether:
- You accept in full the Parliamentary Ombudsman's findings and recommendations in relation to Equitable Life;
- you accept £4.3billion as the figure for relative losses for policyholders arising from maladministration; and whether
- the Labour Party in government or in coalition will compensate all policyholders during the next parliament for their full losses.”
On 19 March Ed Miliband wrote back, delegating responding to Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie. EMAG has chased him again and again. On the evening of 27th March, after Parliament had been prorogued, EMAG finally received an extraordinary reply from Chris Leslie. It still doesn't answer those three key questions. But it promises that, if Labour is elected, then the (much discredited) Sir John Chadwick report will be implemented! Read the letter here
The Treasury's dissembling
On 12 February EMAG wrote to all 217 MPs on the APPG to provide them with a detailed explanation as to why they should not trust the Treasury's replies to Equitable Life questions. It may be an eye-opener for you too!
Commons debate on Equitable compensation
On 26 February the Backbench Business Committee dedicated one of its privileged debates to Equitable Life, and the Motion demanded that there be a commitment in the next Parliament to pay out the compensation in full, as the economy recovers. 37 MPs spoke and only the Minister responsible, Andrea Leadsom MP, maintained the government's position. At the end of the debate there was a unanimous vote to adopt the motion, which read:
“That this House congratulates the Government on providing a scheme to compensate victims of the Equitable Life scandal; welcomes the Government's acceptance of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's findings in full; notes that the Parliamentary Ombudsman recommended that policyholders should be put back in the position they would have been had maladministration not occurred; further notes that most victims have only received partial compensation compared to the confirmed losses; and calls on the Government to make a commitment to provide full compensation during the lifetime of the next Parliament as the economy and public finances continue to recover.”
You can watch the debate (start at 12.53) here.
You can download a digest of the press coverage so far here.
All in all, a triumph! And great credit to the three-man APPG Executive officers, all of whom spoke well in our favour.