MGN reinstates early pension rights

MIRROR Group Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mirror, is reinstating arrangements to allow its past and present employees to take a pension on early retirement, a right that they lost in the aftermath of the Robert Maxwell pensions debacle.

Anyone over 56 will be able to draw from their pension. The real beneficiaries will be those who had their pension stopped - those who have retired but are not yet 60.

In 1995, MGN will reduce its retirement age to 50, as it was before Maxwell's death. The change announced yesterday will affect about 500 people and will cost MGN about pounds 20m over four years.

In a joint announcement, Colin Cornwall, the chairman of the trustees of the MGN pension funds, and Charlie Wilson, MGN's managing director, said: 'This is extremely good news for our members. When the extent of the damage to the funds was revealed after Robert Maxwell's death the outlook appeared bleak for everyone.'

The company had committed to reinstating the funds. 'Now we are able to allow people to retire early,' the joint statement said.

Greater protection of individual investors is urged by the Consumers' Association in a report published today. It says the Securities and Investments Board should be replaced by a new body with stronger powers to protect investors more vigorously.

The Association wants its proposed Office of Investor Protection to be more accountable to government and to be more willing to instigate regulatory improvements. The report says the SIB is in an impossible position, caught between a Government that has given it limited powers and the vested interests of the financial services industry.

The system of self-regulation established under SIB by the 1986 Financial Services Act allows the industry to override investors' interests, the CA believes. It wants more consumer input and less regulation behind closed doors. The current system has delivered 'inadequate standards of monitoring and enforcement . . . unacceptably high levels of fraud, and widespread mis-selling'. The CA estimates consumers lose more than pounds 250m a year because of early cancellation of policies.

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