Home income plan victims fight on

Caroline Merrell
Friday 05 August 1994 23:02 BST

FOUR YEARS after the home income plan scandal hit the headlines, hundreds of elderly people are still fighting to win compensation, writes Caroline Merrell.

Despite victims being awarded some money from the Investors Compensation Scheme, many are still fighting to be restored to their exact financial position before they bought the plans.

Solicitors are continuing to press for further compensation from the lenders that provided the mortgages for the schemes.

The Securities and Investments Board recently admitted that it had been passed a critical report, put together by Fimbra, on the role of the West Bromwich Building Society in the sale of these plans. The SIB said it would give a full report to the Commons Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee in September.

The society provided mortgages for home income plans sold by financial adviser Fisher Prew Smith. Hundreds of elderly people lost thousands of pounds when they were advised to remortgage their homes and invest the proceeds in equity-linked bonds. Many were in danger of losing their homes.

The two main firms of solicitors acting for aggrieved investors are still trying to settle hundreds of claims. Trethowans, based in Salisbury, is trying to resolve 500 of the 900 claims.

'Over 400 claims have so far been satisfactorily resolved in the claimants' favour,' the firm said.

Trethowans is also acting on behalf of elderly investors who bought home income plans through an appointed representative of DBS Financial Management. DBS is Britain's biggest network of independent financial advisers. Investors who lost money through this company have had a far speedier resolution of their compensation claims.

Legal action to win compensation from DBS on behalf of more than 100 home income plan casualties started 18 months ago, some time after legal moves to win recompense for victims of Fisher Prew Smith's plans.

The vast majority of cases involving DBS have been resolved. Ken Davy, DBS chairman, said: 'The way the claims have been settled very much depends on the individual circumstances involved.' Mr Davy said that the claims had so far been funded by the company itself.

Barnett Sampson, another of the law firms acting to win compensation, still has 400 outstanding claims from a total of 520. Of those outstanding, 182 involve plans bought from Fisher Prew Smith backed by loans from the West Bromwich.

The Investors Compensation Scheme has already paid out pounds 11.2m to Fisher Prew Smith investors - one of the biggest payouts by the scheme involving a single company.

Barnett Sampson is hoping to win further compensation from the ICS.

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