Updated 20th December
Letter from EMAG to the Minister, 18th December, 2013
Parliament breaks tomorrow and I want to put on record before that, EMAG's thanks to you personally.
This week I have had literally dozens of thankyous from EMAG members who are pre–1992 WP annuitants — several expressing the view that they didn't expect to live to see any compensation.
In the 15 months you've been in charge of compensating Equitable Life's victims you have listened, taken an interest and made valuable interventions. These have been appreciated by Equitable policyholders and EMAG has given you plaudits for your achievements to date.
EMAG must also give great credit to the 186–strong APPG under the committed leadership of Bob, Fabian and Stephen. They too have played a pivotal part in breaking the log-jam that was engendering hostility to the Coalition.
EMAG recognises that you could easily have left our plight to the new Economic Secretary and we appreciate that you chose not to.
A big thank you, particularly on behalf of the 9,000 WPAs who you ensured received their tax–free £5000 payments this week.
EMAG looks forward to continuing to work constructively with you in 2014.
General Secretary of EMAG
EMAG on R4's ‘You and Yours’
At lunchtime on Monday 16 December, Radio 4's ‘You and Yours’ had a five–minute item on the new payments made pre–Christmas to the pre–1992 with–profits annuitants. First, listeners heard from EMAG member Harold Gurvick, followed by Paul Braithwaite, who flagged up EMAG's ongoing fight!
EMAG's success in getting pre–1992s paid before Christmas
Since the Budget announcement of £45million for pre–1992 annuitants, EMAG has strained every nerve to impress on the Minister, the Treasury Team, the APPG and the media the importance of getting payments out to these 9,000 oldest and frailest pensioners — previously unfairly excluded. The plan had been to delay payments until April 2014. We thank Minister Sajid Javid MP for listening to EMAG and the APPG and expediting the payments before Christmas. EMAG will continue to campaign for this group for compensation to be on the same terms as their younger annuitant brethren.
The Equitable's all–party group (APPG)
The APPG's formal AGM to re–appoint the Executive was held on 5th November at number 1 Parliament Street. Read the minutes of the APPG's formal AGM
The all–party parliamentary group of MPs for Justice for Equitable Life policyholders, now numbering 186 MPs, had previously held a useful meeting with minister Sajid Javid MP on 11 September. Read the minutes of the meeting.
EMAG directors and the MPs present pressed the minister to seek to bring forward the £5,000 payments to pre'92 WP annuitants to be made before Christmas. Subsequent to the meeting, the APPG Executive, wrote to the minister on 23rd October with further requests.
EMAG succeeds in delaying compensation Scheme's closure
EMAG scored a considerable success through its representations to MPs and The Treasury. The ELPS compensation Scheme was planned to wind down after Christmas and close at the end of March. With 200,000 eligible policyholders currently untraced, EMAG argued the Scheme MUST be extended. On 9 October the minister announced agreement to extend the Scheme's closure date to 30 June 2015. You can download a digest of press cuttings on the extension of the scheme.
EMAG works with the Treasury on tracing
Paul Weir and Paul Braithwaite had lengthy and co–operative meetings on improving the tracing of victims with The Treasury's team managers on 16 October and 12 November (and a third scheduled in mid-January). It appears that The Treasury is now listening to EMAG's input and advice, at last. See an example of advertisements placed in the Times, Telegraph, Mail etc. in November to seek to trace individuals eligible for Equitable Life compensation but so far unidentified.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on ELPS and Treasury response
The Treasury was obliged to respond to the PAC's 25 July report. The Treasury duly replied on 18 November. One of the key responses was to recommendation 6:
"6 The Treasury should write to the Committee outlining what action it has taken to make sure the data used by Towers Watson are correct, and what it will do make sure policyholders receive better and fuller explanations on how their payments have been calculated.
6.1 The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation.
Work in progress: December 2013."
EMAG has wrote subsequently to Margaret Hodge, the chair of PAC, to further protest about ongoing obfuscation and failure to comply with this recommendation.