Sam Dunn: Pension punch-up: back the underdog
Sunday 28 January 2007
Some fights just seem to go on for ever. Last week, the protagonists in a battle over compensation for workers deprived of pension income through no fault of their own staggered from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and back towards the UK High Court.
The weary pugilists - the Government and around 1,000 former Allied Steel & Wire workers whose final salary pension savings were slashed when their employer collapsed in 2003 - are trading pun-ches over responsibility for the consequences.
In the latest round, the ECJ ruled that the Government did not have to offer "a full guarantee of the [old age] rights in question" and that an EU insolvency directive gave governments leeway in calculating how much of a safety net to provide. However, the ruling added, "a level of protection... such as that afforded by the UK system is inadequate".
So it's now up to a British judge to decide whether the Government showed "manifest and serious disregard" in its actions towards making sure that UK pension schemes were adequately funded. If found guilty, compensation should be forthcoming and would probably open the floodgates for up to 125,000 workers from other companies in a similar situation.
(These companies went to the wall before the introduction in April 2005 of the Pension Protection Fund, so their workers can only draw on a separate and hopelessly inadequate £400m "lifeboat" fund.)
But the campaigners, represented by the Amicus and Community unions, face a tough challenge - not least because, in 1995, the Conservative government adopted a loose form of pension regulation that was approved by the European Commission and still exists now.
The legal arguments are likely to run for months, and for the many whose pension income crumbled four years ago, it's too much of a financial burden to bear.
It's clear that government behaviour has been nothing less than squalid: bullying workers over a refusal to cap legal costs; rejection of a critical parliamentary ombudsman's report; and dismissal of the Public Administration Committee's call for redress. I can only hope the British judge agrees.
Fix that exit fee
Mortgage "exit" fees - paid when you switch lender or pay off your home loan - must now be fixed and transparent, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has ruled. This basic fair play has been lacking among most UK lenders, but now they'll have to comply. Anyone charged a higher exit fee than that quoted when they took out the loan can reclaim the difference.
The FSA should have gone further and forced a low fixed fee; that lenders charge an average of £190 for a simple administrative charge is stupefying.
Money Alert: Surviving Winter
Simon Read: There may be trouble ahead for cohabiting couples who don’t make a will
Mark Dampier: Strong returns can be found if you go the opposite way to the crowds
Money Insider: Would £150 make you switch banks?
Bargain Hunter: Find the deals that have real value beneath the Black Friday hype
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
iJobs Money & Business
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens