Updated 30th October
"Equitable Life plan extended by a year
The £1.5 billion Equitable Life compensation scheme has failed to track down more than 400,000 account holders, prompting the Government to extend it for at least another year.
Sajid Javid, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said yesterday that the Government was poised to run a national advertising campaign aimed at prompting eligible policyholders to come forward.
Hundreds of thousands of investors risk losing out on payments that average £1,339 but could be considerably higher because the mutual pension provider supplied incorrect contact details or no address at all to the scheme's administrators. In some cases, the address details handed over were 20 years old, the Treasury said.
The Equitable Members Action Group, the campaign group that led the call for financial redress, offered the department an up-to-date CD with 250,000 correct names and addresses two years ago. However, the Treasury refused to use it amid concerns that it would breach rules on confidentiality and privacy.
The campaign, which will feature advertisements online and in newspapers, will start in the next few weeks, the Equitable Life Payment Scheme said yesterday.
Mr Javid said that the scheme would be extended until the middle of 2015. It had previously been expected to close next April.
‘The Government has allocated up to £1.5 billion to help the policyholders of Equitable Life who suffered an injustice, with hundreds of thousands of policyholders receiving £700 million in payments since 2011,’ he said. ‘We've made strong progress, but we want to maximise the number of people who will eventually receive payments.’…
Paul Weir, a spokesman for EMAG, said that the group had pressed for the scheme's deadline to be abandoned, including at a meeting of the all-party group of MPs working on behalf of policyholders.
Mr Weir said: ‘We are delighted that the Treasury has listened to EMAG and the all-party group. It is vital that the Treasury complete the task of tracing those who are entitled to compensation and we will be working with them to assist that process,’"
Miles Costello in The Times 10 October, 2013
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. EMAG also pressed for getting on with national press adverts and EMAG has provided advice on improvements to later versions of the ads.. If you or someone you know may be eligible, please read the advertisement and follow the instructions.
A minister that listens
EMAG is pleased that in the recent ministerial re-shuffle, responsibility for Equitable's compensation has remained with Sajid Javid MP, who was promoted to become Financial Secretary. Pleased, because Sajid Javid is up-to-speed on Equitable, because he has the ear of the Chancellor and because he has proved to us that he both listens and is willing to intercede. If only that could be said of his predecessor, Mark Hoban MP, who was sacked in the latest re-shuffle, after being demoted one year earlier.
The Equitable's all-party group (APPG)
The all-party parliamentary group of MPs for Justice for Equitable Life policyholders, now numbering 184 MPs, held a useful and well-attended 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.
The APPG's formal AGM to re-appoint the Executive is to be held at 2.00pm on 5th November (note the date!) in Room C, 1 Parliament Street.
The pre-1992 WPAs
There has been considerable confusion over the new compensation Scheme for the pre-1992 with-profits annuitants, previously excluded. Many policyholders have got the wrong end of the stick and thought the £5,000 was meant for everyone who started a with-profits policy before 1992. The description of the new Scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/equitable-life-payments/equitable-life-payments
If you think you may be eligible, please do NOT contact ELPS or The Pru, but write instead to The Treasury quoting your pre-1992 with-profits annuity policy number at this address:
Equitable Life Pre-1992 WPA Payments,
1 Horse Guards Road,
After we raised the issue with the Treasury, we can confirm that those WPAs who receive Housing Benefit will not have that stream of payment prejudiced by the £5,000 payment. The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) has written to Local Authorities. (who administer Housing Benefit) to remind them to disregard the pre-92 payments for Housing Benefit purposes. The payments are disregarded for tax purposes and do not affect other social security benefits.
On the question of Council tax reduction, the government has devolved the power for CTR to local governments and they set their own eligibility criteria. The payments could theoretically impact on CTR eligibility for FY2014/2015, depending on the individual local policy. This policy is overseen by the Department for Communities and Local Government, who issue an annual guidance note to local authorities on CTR. Whilst local authorities have no obligation to follow it, the Treasury has asked them look at including a note on these payments in it.
Meanwhile, EMAG is seeking expedition of the £5,000 payments, hopefully to be received before Christmas. And EMAG will continue to campaign for parity of treatment with the post-92 WPAs, such that pension shortfall payments will continue as long as the annuitant lives.
EMAG working with The Treasury
Paul Weir and Paul Braithwaite had a lengthy and co-operative meeting on improving the tracing of victims with The Treasury's team managers on 16 October and a further meeting is scheduled for 12 November. It appears that The Treasury is now willing to listen to EMAG's input and advice, at last.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on ELPS
The Treasury is obliged to respond to the PAC's report and this is expected by mid-November. It must provide not more than 100 word answers to each of the PAC's recommendations.
EMAG's standing was considerably enhanced by the multiple references to the campaign group and by the instruction to The Treasury that it should work with EMAG. To get a feel for the roasting given to the Treasury by the PAC it is perhaps most interesting to read the PAC's press release containing the key recommendations.
EMAG members should have received by post their annual report and accounts for the year to 30 June, 2013 in week commencing 21 October. The AGM will be held at the BMI in Birmingham, per the last three years, at 2.30pm on Thursday 14 November. The keynote speaker will be Stephen Lloyd MP, who is the Secretary to the Equitable Life APPG. Current paid-up members of EMAG are eligible to attend. Have you posted your renewal yet?