Updated 1st July, 2016
EMAG exists to campaign for full government compensation. Will members of EMAG please note that because of pressure of work we regret it is not possible to answer individual written enquiries.
A short video which explains what EMAG is fighting for.
Chancellor the Rt Hon George Osborne MP:
“Pensioners who have worked hard all their lives deserve dignity, security and certainty in retirement. That's what we all hope for and what any responsible government should seek to provide”
“May you live in interesting times”
The expression is derived from an ancient Chinese curse! Recent days following the EU referendum have been far more unstable than we could possibly have anticipated, with chaos in both major political parties as this is written. After a new Prime Minister has been chosen (before 9 September), the likelihood is that a new Chancellor of the Exchequer will be appointed. Like it or not, our political world is undergoing a massive shake-up.
The APPG's AGM
On 28 June, despite the climate of chaos in Parliament, Equitable Life’s APPG still succeeded in holding its formal AGM, with successful re-appointment of all of the group’s officers. EMAG’s Paul Braithwaite gave the dozen MPs who were able to attend a brief update. The APPG group has grown to a very impressive 208 MP members. It includes 27 from the Scottish National Party, 53 from Labour and a hearty 112 Conservative backbench MPs.
ELPS Compensation paid out to June
The latest updated figures (obtained by FoI) show that the Treasury has failed to trace 10% of policyholders entitled to compensation (108,000). The total compensation paid out to 932,473 non-WPA annuitants was £740 million (of the £775m designated). 38,228 with-profits annuitants had received £370 million to 1 June.
Finding out how ELPS calculated your payments
After a protracted stand off, the Treasury has, after months of negotiations, agreed to work with EMAG's actuary David Forfar to help us understand how ELPS's payment calculations were arrived at.
Mr Forfar (former Chief Actuary with Scottish Windows and a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries) is assisting EMAG at no charge, for which we are very grateful.
Following his successful work in 2014 on WPA (annuity) policies*, Mr Forfar has built a model of all the main non-WPA policy types (such as personal pension policies, managed pensions Income drawdown, bonds and PIPs) using all the publicly available data from the Treasury and ELPS. The model is based on 23 ACTUAL examples (as opposed to hypothetical) and we are seeking to identify why some of the examples that he has evaluated using data provided by EMAG members are out of line with the actual payments received from ELPS.
Mr Forfar has also identified areas of information that he believes the Scheme has not yet provided, which in his view makes it impossible to correctly arrive at a calculation. Clarification of these points will help us to progress the matter. This kind of lengthy “reverse-engineering” is necessary because the Treasury has refused to show us THEIR model.
Mr Forfar will be working with the Treasury's actuaries WTW (who did the work for the original Scheme) in order to to satisfy himself that his models can reproduce the outcomes produced by the Scheme in the 23 cases to a reasonable degree of accuracy. EMAG hopes to publish his conclusions when the work is finished later in the Summer.
*You can read David Forfar's conclusions on WPA policies (annuities) here.
Equitable Commons debate 11 February
The Equitable APPG secured a three-hour-long debate in the Commons on Thursday 11 February. On the eve of the debate, EMAG organised a briefing session for MP members of the APPG, held in Committee Room 13 (see photo above).
The Motion called on the government to make a commitment to provide victims of the Equitable Life scandal with full compensation:
“That this House congratulates the Government on providing a scheme to compensate victims of the Equitable Life scandal; welcomes the Government's acceptance of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's findings in full; notes that the Parliamentary Ombudsman recommended that policyholders should be put back in the position they would have been in had maladministration not occurred; further notes that most victims have only received partial compensation compared to the confirmed losses; and that the compensation scheme is now closed to new applicants; calls on the Government to ensure that the entire existing budget allocated for compensation to date is paid to applicants to the scheme and make a further commitment to provide full compensation for relative losses to all victims of this scandal.”
In total, on a Thursday afternoon (when most MPs were travelling home to their constituencies) thirty MPs participated in our support. It was a very helpful debate. The role of Treasury mouthpiece fell to junior minister Damian Hinds MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. Our stalwart supporter, APPG chair, Bob Blackman MP, wound up the debate thus:
“I thank hon. Members and all three Front-Bench speakers for the constructive and fair way in which the debate has been conducted. Almost 2% of the population have been affected by this scandal, and we have a duty to ensure that they are given full compensation for the loss they have suffered.”
You can watch the full debate, which started at 1.30pm, here
Or read the full Hansard transcript here
Actuary David Forfar investigated the ELPS calculations for WPAs
As you may be aware, EMAG has been engaged in a protracted battle to get the Treasury to enable recipients of ELPS payments to understand how their payments were calculated. This has included two sessions with the Public Accounts Committee. This battle continues for the majority of policy types, but for WP Annuities only, we have made progress.
Eminent actuary David Forfar (who has given all his time and expertise to EMAG pro bono) created a spreadsheet model in an attempt to reproduce the Treasury's model, using the technical annexe published on the ELPS website. As the Treasury refused to let EMAG see the workings of their model, it was eventually agreed that instead Towers Watson (the actuaries who created the Treasury's model) would meet with Mr Forfar and identify any adjustments to his model that would enable his to replicate theirs.
It became apparent that there were some flaws and omissions in the Treasury's technical annexe (most of which were subsequently corrected in a clarifications document published on the Government's website in September 2014) making it impossible to complete the task, but with further dialogue over a number of months, we finally reached a point where Mr Forfar's model was in sync with the Towers Watson model and he was able to analyse a sample of 11 actual examples supplied by EMAG members.
This was a long and painful process but Mr Forfar has published his conclusions on his own website:
“Thus, in my view, although only a selection of actual WPA policies have been checked, the former Equitable Life With-Profits Annuitants (WPA annuitants) can take comfort from this exercise that their compensation calculations have been done correctly.”
Read in full here.