Updated 30th December 2014
EMAG's new film: “Time for the Treasury to settle its Debts”
EMAG recently filmed a dozen of its aggrieved non-annuitant members
“Two wrongs that must be made right
It is a fact of financial life that victims of wrongdoing - invariably hard-working, hard-saving citizens - do not always get the justice they deserve. Over the life of the current Government, two groups of investors badly wronged by the financial services industry, and those who regulate it, have not received satisfactory justice.
They are investors in Equitable Life and Arch Cru, monstrous financial scandals of our time - indeed of any time. Speak to anyone who took out a savings plan with Equitable in the 1980s and 1990s and they will tell you they have been horribly let down.
They saved diligently throughout their working lives to ensure they were not a burden on the State and to enjoy a retirement free from financial worry. But 14 years on from suffering catastrophic financial losses after Equitable nearly went to the wall as a result of mismanagement and regulatory failure, they are still waiting for justice to prevail. Although the present Government, unlike the previous Labour administration, agreed in 2010 to pay £1.5 billion of redress, it has still left nearly a million policyholders feeling short-changed. The compensation only covers a tickle over 20 per cent of the losses they incurred.
Such an obvious case of financial injustice explains why many Equitable victims, most now in their 80s and 90s, continue to campaign ferociously for the wrongdoing done to them to be addressed satisfactorily... Equitable savers are being treated like second-class citizens, especially in light of the 100 per cent protection customers of bailed out banks received (quite rightly so) in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. This monumental financial injustice remains a blot on the financial landscape. It is to the Government's great discredit that it hasn't removed it...”
APPG writes to Minister
The APPG's MP Executives - Bob Blackman, Fabian Hamilton and Stephen Lloyd wrote a strong letter to Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom, including this:
“You suggested that the decision to allocate non-annuitants with compensation of just 22% of their relative loss had been taken by the Independent Commission on Equitable Life Payments (ICELP). But when the Treasury set ICELP's terms of reference it said that ICELP must “recommend how best to fairly allocate funds provided for the Equitable Life Payments Scheme... excepting with-profits annuitants and their estates”. The decision had already been taken that with-profits... would be entitled to full compensation and was therefore not in ICELP's remit... Any decision to compensate one subset of non-annuitants with more would simply have led to another group receiving less.”
The UKIP effect on prospects
UKIP is VERY worrying to the Conservatives. It's not just about whether UKIP gets five or twenty five seats: If UKIP gets, say 15% of the votes across the UK, it would open the door to Labour winning seats from the Conservatives through the attrition of core Tory supporters' votes. That would be a double whammy - with one less Tory and one more Labour MP - which could conceivably lead to Labour being the largest Party and forming the next government.
Update shows compensation progress is painfully slow
On 25th November the Treasury published its latest progress report on the Equitable Life Payment Scheme with data up until 31st October. In the four months since the last update, only £17.6 million has been paid out and just 9,000 of the missing policyholders have been traced. That leaves over 150,000 still to track down - that's 15% of those eligible for compensation.
The progress report might not have been published at all if it had not been for pressure from MPs at the all-party meeting in November. The Minister was not aware that her officials have repeatedly ignored the dates promised to give progress updates and we are grateful to her for reminding her officials that the Government had made a commitment to provide regular updates to Parliament and policyholders.
EMAG's regional campaign is expanding
Our regional team now has 12 people working on the campaign, plus lots of volunteers. More and more MPs are having a dialogue with their constituents. Success will result from Equitable's victims making the effort to challenge MPs and their main rival aspiring candidates and convincing them that their attitude to this issue WILL affect how votes are cast.
MPs will apply pressure
A very impressive 205 backbench MP are now members of our Equitable Life APPG and many of them are making personal representations to the Chancellor. Is yours one?