Hain's 'Big Picture' on ASW Workers Overlooks the Simple Solution in Front of Him

July 3, 2007 12:00 AM

Today, Jenny Willott MP responded to comments made yesterday by Work and Pensions Secretary and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, regarding the Financial Assistance Scheme and the plight of ASW workers.

Peter Hain said that critics of the Financial Assistance Scheme needed to see the "bigger picture" of how the Government had acted to put money forward to assist ASW workers and others who lost their pensions through no fault of their own.

Jenny responded saying:

"I am the first to welcome the Government's support for those who have lost their pensions. However, we mustn't forget that they were forced to provide compensation by the strong campaign of ASW workers and the Pension Action Group, as well as decisions by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the European Court of Justice and the High Court. And although the FAS is better than nothing - it is not yet good enough.

"It will cost the Government only an extra £19m a year to properly compensate all ASW workers and over one hundred thousand others who have lost their pension savings.

"£19m a year is small beer to the Government - the Department of Work and Pensions alone spends this every year on printing and marketing its own leaflets.

"The big picture is that over 100,000 people have lost their pensions because they trusted the Government when it said their pensions were safe. After three years of repeatedly proving their case, they are still left with an underfunded and failing relief scheme.

"Peter Hain claims that the Government will payout 80% of people's pensions. This is wrong. In reality, they will receive just 60% of their expected pension from a scheme that has so far cost twice as much to run as it pays out.

"ASW workers, and tens of thousands more, deserve to see an end to this financial insecurity and misery. They deserve to get the same level of assistance as someone who loses their pension today. This will cost the Government just £19m more a year. It is a simple, cheap and fair solution to a big problem, and it is lying at Peter Hain's feet."

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