Updated 3rd April 2014
“Equitable Life policyholders to receive uplift, but call is still on to ‘settle debts’”
Equitable Life's remaining 345,000 policyholders will get a 25% boost to their policies next month, while the 5% exit penalty for leaving the society is finally removed.
The effective 30% uplift in value for anyone wanting to transfer out of the society, which came close to collapse in 2000, means exit may now be a more attractive option.
In 2008, after an eight–year campaign by Equitable Members' Action Group (EMAG) in the courts and in parliament, the parliamentary ombudsman found the government guilty of maladministration, in a 2800–page report.
In 2011, the government decided to award 100% compensation to those who took pensions after September 1, 1992, and nothing to those who retired earlier.
EMAG commissioned an expert report from Scottish actuary David Forfar which found a ‘remarkable consistency of losses’ between both groups, with most seeing their pension income cut by 60% and going down every year. The action group's campaign to reverse the decision, fronted by actress Honor Blackman, prompted the government to announce a year ago that all those excluded would get a £5000 cheque, and payments have been going out this year.
Paul Weir, spokesman for EMAG, which has boasted 50,000 members, commented:
"EMAG's policy remains that the pre–1992s should be treated on exactly the same basis as post-92s, and awarded a properly–calculated amount based on the same formula. The £5000 is a down-payment."
The Equitable Life Payment Scheme, paying out less than one-quarter of their losses to all other EL victims, has one year to run.
Mr Weir said:
"We are ramping up our campaign to persuade MPs that 22.4% of our acknowledged losses is not enough. We want them to settle the debt on the missing 77.4%. We were originally told the amount was capped for ‘affordability’ reasons. If the economy is improving, that reason no longer holds."Read the article by Simon Bain in the Herald – 29th March 2014
First, an apology: This website has not been updated for several weeks. This was because EMAG's General Secretary, Paul Braithwaite, suffered a serious accident whilst on a bicycling holiday in South Africa at the end of February. He's pleased to report that he is now recovering his health and hopes soon to be fighting fit again.
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
Paul Weir, Communications Director of EMAG
EMAG Constituency action groups planning their campaigns
On 24 March Equitable Life announced an uplift for remaining policyholders who decide to quit the Society. Those who leave will receive a 25% bonus, and the exit penalty (often known as an MVA) which has prevailed since 2001 is now removed. See:
Several with–profits annuitants have asked “Why not us?”. The answer is that their contracts were sold as a block by Vanni Treves and Charles Thompson to the Prudential and the Society has had no contractual relationship with any annuitants since 2007. In the intervening years the Society has changed enormously and the new board, under chief executive Chris Wiscarson, has steered the Society back to being sound and solvent, pulling the mutual back from the brink.
The Society's AGM is to be held on Monday 19th May at the Regent's Park Holiday Inn. EMAG directors will attend.
Since last autumn, EMAG has, through its retained expert public law solicitors, been very actively engaged in protracted legal exchanges with The Treasury. In essence EMAG is seeking to enforce the Coalition's commitment that the calculation of compensation payments should be transparent and comprehensible. There are ongoing negotiations. Suffice to say that a meeting has taken place between EMAG, our actuary, The Treasury and Towers Watson – but we cannot reveal more at this time.
EMAG will persist in pressing to get the tranparency we all want.
The Prudential's treatment of WPAs
Many EMAG WPAs have expressed dismay at their treatment by the Pru. There is incredulity at the continuing poor bonus declarations and the quality of communications. To examine the Pru's behaviour, EMAG is setting up a working group under EMAG director Jeff Worsley. If you would like to actively participate in the working group, please send him an email to: WPAgroup@emag.org.uk
The next meeting of the APPG is scheduled for Tuesday 29 April at 4.00pm, when MPs will have the opportunity to hear from the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
It's pleasing to note that membership of the all-party group of MPs signed up to ‘Justice for Equitable life Policyholders’ has grown steadily to an impressive 192 MP members. See: http://www.emag.org.uk/justice_group.php
Please ask your MP to join. They can become a member by contacting the Secretariat: email@example.com