Lloyd's wants multi-million top-up for names

The Lloyd's insurance market said yesterday that it expected to top up its pounds 3.1bn rescue package with special help for the hardest-hit names.

Lloyd's agents are in negotiations to increase the pounds 200m they have pledged to the rescue fund by tens of millions. The extra money will pay the equivalent of a pension to impoverished members who have no hope of meeting their debts.

The Society of Names said it expected the arrangement to bring the income of the worst affected to the level they would have received under the former Lloyd's hardship fund, of around pounds 11,000 a year for single people and pounds 17,500 for couples, net of tax. But Lloyd's poured cold water on reports that the agents are to contribute an extra pounds 100m to the rescue, saying this figure was "highly speculative."

Lloyd's said that it recognised that those in special difficulty including the aged would need continuing support. It was in "active discussions" with the agents about increasing the pounds 200m but no figure would be given until the discussions were concluded.

Tom Benyon, director of the Society of Names, said: "I am glad that now the promise made to me at Lloyd's AGM on 24 May 1994 by Peter Middleton, then Lloyd's chief executive, that busted names' income would be protected is at last being fulfilled."

He added: "This move is final proof that names were right to reject the last settlement offer. A period of silence is now called for from all those who recommended acceptance."

The Lloyd's Names Association Working Party said: "Many names would not have believed so much could be achieved, especially when they were told recently that the well was dry."