Updated 28th April, 2016
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.
25 April 2016: EMAG's Paul Braithwaite briefed Chris Philp, member of the Treasury Select Committee and MP for South Croydon, in Portcullis House.
“Pension injustices. Pension injustices are a blight on the financial landscape. They chip away at our faith in pensions as a savings vehicle, especially when they are allowed to linger, fuelling the anger of those victims who feel cruelly let down.
Many people with Equitable Life pensions argue - with justification - they have never been properly compensated for the failure of City regulators to watch over the insurer prior to its near implosion in 2000. Sadly, as each year passes and more of them pass away, their cry for help grows ever quieter. A state of affairs that Government should be ashamed of.”
Finding out how ELPS calculated your payments
After a protracted stand off, the Treasury has, after months of negotiations, agreed to work with EMAG's actuary David Forfar to help us understand how ELPS's payment calculations were arrived at.
Mr Forfar (former Chief Actuary with Scottish Windows and a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries) is assisting EMAG at no charge, for which we are very grateful.
Following his successful work in 2014 on WPA (annuity) policies*, Mr Forfar has built a model of all the main non-WPA policy types (such as personal pension policies, managed pensions Income drawdown, bonds and PIPs) using all the publicly available data from the Treasury and ELPS. The model is based on 23 ACTUAL examples (as opposed to hypothetical) and we are seeking to identify why some of the examples that he has evaluated using data provided by EMAG members are out of line with the actual payments received from ELPS.
Mr Forfar has also identified areas of information that he believes the Scheme has not yet provided, which in his view makes it impossible to correctly arrive at a calculation. Clarification of these points will help us to progress the matter. This kind of lengthy “reverse-engineering” is necessary because the Treasury has refused to show us THEIR model.
Mr Forfar will be working with the Treasury's actuaries WTW (who did the work for the original Scheme) in order to to satisfy himself that his models can reproduce the outcomes produced by the Scheme in the 23 cases to a reasonable degree of accuracy. EMAG hopes to publish his conclusions when the work is finished later in the Summer.
*You can read David Forfar's conclusions on WPA policies (annuities) here.
Steady growth in MPs joining the APPG
At the beginning of 2016 there were 177 MP members of the 'Justice for Equitable Life Policyholders All-Party Parliamentary Group' (APPG). EMAG is pleased to report that, thanks to the perseverance of our members that number had risen to 202 MP members by mid-April. That includes 112 Tories! You can check here if your MP is a member here.
Political dead calm
Sad to say, domestic UK politics is currently disrupted by the EU referendum. MPs are seemingly focussed only on the European Union vote on 23 June. There are implications for the government (and the Treasury in particular) and we will have a clearer idea of where to direct our efforts once the referendum is resolved. We thank EMAG members for their patience.
A quiet word
On 9 March Bob Blackman MP joint-chair of the APPG, held a private briefing meeting with the Minister responsible, Harriett Baldwin MP, to lobby the case for full compensation. Also attending were a delegation of a dozen Tory MP members of the APPG. Whilst it was held under Chatham House rules, we can report (and thank) those MP who attended: David Warburton, Kevin Hollinrake, Heidi Allen, James Morris, Nick Herbert, David Davis, Peter Bottomley, Laurence Robertson, Stephen Metcalfe, Oliver Dowden, Anne Marie Morris, Will Quince and Julian Knight.
Equitable Commons debate 11 February
The Equitable APPG secured a three-hour-long debate in the Commons on Thursday 11 February. On the eve of the debate, EMAG organised a briefing session for MP members of the APPG, held in Committee Room 13 (see photo above).
The Motion called on the government to make a commitment to provide victims of the Equitable Life scandal with full compensation:
“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 in had maladministration not occurred; further notes that most victims have only received partial compensation compared to the confirmed losses; and that the compensation scheme is now closed to new applicants; calls on the Government to ensure that the entire existing budget allocated for compensation to date is paid to applicants to the scheme and make a further commitment to provide full compensation for relative losses to all victims of this scandal.”
In total, on a Thursday afternoon (when most MPs were travelling home to their constituencies) thirty MPs participated in our support. It was a very helpful debate. The role of Treasury mouthpiece fell to junior minister Damian Hinds MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. Our stalwart supporter, APPG chair, Bob Blackman MP, wound up the debate thus:
“I thank hon. Members and all three Front-Bench speakers for the constructive and fair way in which the debate has been conducted. Almost 2% of the population have been affected by this scandal, and we have a duty to ensure that they are given full compensation for the loss they have suffered.”
You can watch the full debate, which started at 1.30pm, here
Or read the full Hansard transcript here
Actuary David Forfar investigated the ELPS calculations for WPAs
As you may be aware, EMAG has been engaged in a protracted battle to get the Treasury to enable recipients of ELPS payments to understand how their payments were calculated. This has included two sessions with the Public Accounts Committee. This battle continues for the majority of policy types, but for WP Annuities only, we have made progress.
Eminent actuary David Forfar (who has given all his time and expertise to EMAG pro bono) created a spreadsheet model in an attempt to reproduce the Treasury's model, using the technical annexe published on the ELPS website. As the Treasury refused to let EMAG see the workings of their model, it was eventually agreed that instead Towers Watson (the actuaries who created the Treasury's model) would meet with Mr Forfar and identify any adjustments to his model that would enable his to replicate theirs.
It became apparent that there were some flaws and omissions in the Treasury's technical annexe (most of which were subsequently corrected in a clarifications document published on the Government's website in September 2014) making it impossible to complete the task, but with further dialogue over a number of months, we finally reached a point where Mr Forfar's model was in sync with the Towers Watson model and he was able to analyse a sample of 11 actual examples supplied by EMAG members.
This was a long and painful process but Mr Forfar has published his conclusions on his own website:
“Thus, in my view, although only a selection of actual WPA policies have been checked, the former Equitable Life With-Profits Annuitants (WPA annuitants) can take comfort from this exercise that their compensation calculations have been done correctly.”
Read in full here.