Boots under fire for 'risky' pension deal

A former Boots finance chief has accused the firm of risking the future returns of its 20,000 pensioners by trying to change the way their plans are paid.

Alliance Boots has written to members of its retirement scheme offering a "pension increase exchange". Under the proposal pensioners can choose to give up future inflation-linked increases on pensions earned before 1997 in exchange for a one-off boost to pensions.

But the independent pension consultant John Ralfe, the former head of corporate finance at Boots, said yesterday: "The exchange is not neutral for pensioners – the company is giving only 60 per cent of the value of expected increases and keeping 40 per cent for itself. Even those pensioners who live to the average age will be worse off and those living longer than average will be much worse off."

He said the firm's pensioners were being asked to make an extremely difficult decision and claimed Alliance Boots "leaves itself open to misselling claims from pensioners and elderly widows who find themselves living too long".

The company said it was simply giving pensioners a choice and that it is not mandatory for anyone to accept the changes.