Eastbourne MP vows to back pensioners

EASTBOURNE MP Stephen Lloyd says he will fight for justice for pensioners affected by the Equitable Life crisis.

This month Mr Lloyd, who is the executive secretary for the all party parliamentary group for Equitable Life Policyholders, was joined by two Eastbourne residents for a meeting in Parliament.

The meeting discussed the compensation payments scheme, in light of the £1.5bn settlement offered by the government as part of last year’s spending review.

Mark Hoban MP, the financial secretary to the treasury, was present, along with David Forfar, an independent actuary, who has compiled a report concerning pre-1992 With Profits Annuitants (WPA).

People who invested in Equitable Life prior to 1992, under the WPA scheme are not to receive any compensation. The government say people who took out their policy before any maladministration could have affected their investment decision, did not rely upon regulatory returns which were inaccurate, as a result of maladministration, in making their decision to invest in Equitable Life.

The government insists the reduction these policyholders have seen in their annuity payments occurred because of poor investment market performance, and that early annuity payments received artificially high bonuses.

Mr Forfar’s report contradicted the government view.

He gave evidence to the Parliamentary Committee that payments were not artificially high, ‘over-bonusing’ was insignificant and that the reduction in payments was not due to poor market investment performance.

He went on to add that, in his professional opinion, those WPAs who invested prior to 1992 should be compensated in the same way as those who purchased their policies with Equitable Life after 1992.

Mr Lloyd said, “This independent report is hugely significant, because specific results from the data appear to contradict what the government has been saying, which clearly strengthens our position.

“I was disappointed by the minister’s response to the independent report when I questioned him at the meeting.

“The pre-92 WPA group include some of the oldest and most frail of Equitable Life members, some of whom live in Eastbourne and Willingdon.

“I am determined to continue the fight for justice for these policyholders.”

John Pike, an Eastbourne resident, who accompanied Mr Lloyd to the meeting, added, “I was angry that the Treasury Minister did not seem to take the report, compiled by the actuary Mr Forfar, seriously.

“He could only stay for 20 minutes and, frankly, seemed more pre-occupied with his next meeting. Equitable Life policyholders have been treated shoddily.

“I’m grateful our local MP, Stephen Lloyd, has kept up the pressure, but to be honest, I expected more from the government.”