David Prosser: An equitable solution?

Outlook: There is still time for the Treasury to chose to backtrack, rather than being forced to
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Today marks another step in the inexorably slow progress of the compensation claims of thousands of victims of the collapse, eight years ago, of Equitable Life. But though policyholders are heading to the High Court to ask it to force the Government to accept in full the compensation plans published a year ago by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, it is not too late for ministers to do the decent thing.

The Treasury had hoped that its response to the Ombudsman, unveiled earlier this year, would put a stop to this row. But only a tenth of those affected by Equitable's collapse – deemed by the Ombudsman to be as clear a case of regulatory failure as you'll ever see – stand to get any help under its proposals.

Equitable's victims, understandably, aren't too happy with that, and the support they have in this fight is unprecedented. For example, the Early Day Motion calling for the Government to reconsider its mealy-mouthed proposals has now been signed by a majority of voting MPs in the House of Commons.

With the High Court not due to reach a verdict before the autumn, there is still time for the Treasury to chose to backtrack, rather than being forced to. A U-turn might be embarrassing, but ministers' lack of shame over the Equitable affair has been far more humiliating.

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