Updated 14th August 2014
"Equitable Life: £1bn redress has been paid. The Government says it has paid almost £1bn to 877,000 policyholders - but there are still another 160,000 savers who can't be traced.
The Government has paid £973m compensation to policyholders with Equitable Life, the insurer which all but collapsed 15 years ago. HM Treasury said that by the end of June, 877,000 policyholders have received redress under the Equitable Life Payment Scheme. Around half of these are individual savers who had pensions or other policies with the firm. The rest had pensions policies into which they had paid through their work, or with-profits annuities - policies which paid an income but where money also remained invested.
But HM Treasury said there were still 160,000 policyholders "who are due a payment but where the scheme has not yet been able to trace or validate their address".
It said it was still trying to find these eligible savers and would "continue to consider all proportionate actions it can take to do this". Many are thought to be dead&helip;
In October last year the scheme was extended from its original April 2014 deadline to a new deadline in mid-2015, to give eligible policyholders more time in which to come forward or be identified. HM Treasury said a further 17,000 people had been paid since April.
Andrea Leadsom, economic secretary to the Treasury, said she was "pleased with the progress."
Commons Backbench Business Committee
Since 2010 the Commons' new Backbench Business committee has the prerogative to determine the subject of debate in the chamber on a minimum of 27 days per year. The chair of that committee is Natascha Engel, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire.
On Friday 1st August Natascha met with 70+ EMAG members (plus Paul Braithwaite) in Eckington Community Centre. Members were told that the MP would seek to schedule a debate on Equitable Life compensation.
A week later, a similar EMAG member meeting was held with ex-minister Owen Patterson MP in his constituency.
Please help with our MP Campaign
All over the country, EMAG members are getting together to meet with their MPs or to start a dialogue with letters to their MP signed by several constituents. If you are invited to sign such a letter, please read it and join in. We need to make a big impression on MPs in the next few weeks.
Does this help unravel the calculations?
On 23rd July, the Treasury quietly published on its website two example calculations designed to help policyholders gain a better understanding of the payment calculation the Equitable Life Payment Scheme has carried out. EMAG is currently working with a sample of members to ‘test drive’ to see if they are actually helpful. This is an extremely slow response to the Public Accounts Committee recommendations of July 2013.
Invitees to speak at EMAG's Westminster Rally 22nd October
EMAG has invited the following MPs to speak to our Rally to be held at Central Hall Westminster:
- Andrea Leadsom (minister responsible at the Treasury)
- Tim Farron (Lib Dem)
- Chris Leslie (Labour shadow Financial Secretary)
- Patrick O'Flynn (UKIP's economic spokesman)
plus the three MP executive members of the APPG. We'll see who accepts!
EMAG's recent survey of members
EMAG recently conducted an online survey of our members' attitudes. Nearly two and a half thousand members responded. It showed that 85% are dissatisfied with their 22% compensation payment and 99% want to campaign for the missing 78%.
- Non–WPA (getting 22%) — 85% dissatisfied with their payment.
- Post 92 WPAs — 62% dissatisfied with their payment.
- Pre 92 WPAs — 72% dissatisfied with their payment.
This demonstrates graphically the profound dissatisfaction of the vast majority of Equitable Life policyholders with the paltry payout to non WPAs, which was set in the dark days of October 2010 at just 22%. It's time for the government to put this right. It could even be a vote winner for them!
Dr Ros Altmann honoured
On the 14th June the lead activist for the Pension Action Group (PAG), Ros Altmann, was honoured with a CBE for her years of determined service to seek compensation for occupational pensioners with ASW and others, which led to the setting up of the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS).
EMAG congratulates a fellow campaigner on this well deserved recognition!
The APPG and the PAC
The Equitable Life APPG met on 29th April. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had an interesting dialogue with MPs and EMAG, following her committee's report on Equitable Life in July 2013.
The direct consequence was that the PAC called back the Treasury and NS&I witnesses before the committee on 12th May. EMAG's Paul Braithwaite attended. Read the minutes and observe how the Inland Revenue's director of business and international tax, Mike Williams, answered.
EMAG found Williams' testimony incomplete and wrote again to Margaret Hodge pointing out these deficiencies, on 30th May.
Equitable Life's AGM
Equitable Life's AGM was held in London on 19 May. The number of attendees was up, due to members wanting to understand better the prospective ramifications of the forthcoming relaxation in access to pension savings. Once again, chief executive Chris Wiscarson has passed on his bonus entitlement — in sharp contrast to his predecessor, carpet–bagger Charles Thompson, who took £1 million pound plus annually from Equitable Life in its darkest years. The society is now stabilised and ongoing members are receiving boosts to their policy fund values. 80% of the WP fund apparently has a 3.5% GIR guarantee — valuable in the recent years of ultra–low interest rates.
EMAG Regional Roadshows
Since last summer EMAG's regional co–ordinator, Chris Harlow, and his team have completed three dozen regional meetings with thousands of EMAG members up and down the country.
The workshops have set up hundreds of EMAG constituency groups of volunteer committees and activists. Each group has the goal to engage their particular MP in a dialogue, by post or face–to–face, and to make sure the MPs understand that they each have hundreds of dissatisfied Equitable Life constituents.
Many EMAG members have been frustrated to find their MP acting as ‘postman’, writing on their behalf to the Treasury and then forwarding the carefully crafted standard ‘cookie cutter’ responses back to them, thinking the job is done.
But EMAG members should be persistent and convey that if the MP fails to seek to persuade the Treasury to pay the balance of the £2.8 billion unpaid debt for maladministration, they risk losing the support of thousands of victims and their families at the May 2015 general election.
They should also point out that the Government's only reason for paying us just 22p in the pound was the state of the economy in October 2010. Now that the economy is improving, that argument no longer stands up.
And why should we be treated differently from savers with Northern Rock, Icesave, Bradford and Bingley, Halifax or RBS who all got 100% of their savings protected or reimbursed? The flimsy ‘systemic risk’ argument used by the Treasury is wafer thin.
But nobody is going to write a cheque if EMAG members don't make their anger felt. 2014 is the year when we could turn a little effort into a lot of money.
If YOU want the rest of your money back – DO something about it! Contact your MP and let him/her know what you think!
If you would like to join your local EMAG group, please contact Chris Harlow on firstname.lastname@example.org