Pension battle will continue, say members
THERE were some crumbs of comfort last week for the 450 members of the Samuel Jones pension scheme, which collapsed when the Little Paxton paper manufacturer went bust in 2002. The Government s Financial Assistance Scheme will provide an additional £2bill
THERE were some crumbs of comfort last week for the 450 members of the Samuel Jones pension scheme, which collapsed when the Little Paxton paper manufacturer went bust in 2002.
The Government's Financial Assistance Scheme will provide an additional £2billion for some of the 85,000 pension scheme members across the country who were hit when company failures between 1997 and 2005 dragged their schemes into insolvency.
Although people receiving pensions from the Samuel Jones scheme had their income protected as primary beneficiaries of such money as remained in the pot, the sums they receive are frozen.
Those within three years of retirement already had some protection, but last week's announcement by Pensions Minister John Hutton extended that to those within 15 years of retirement.
Samuel Jones campaigner Alan Marnes said 60 per cent of scheme members were now covered to some extent by the Government's measures.
"The announcement was good for some people, and the Government has made some of the right moves in the right direction," he said.
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"But it's still nowhere near what we were expecting before the closure of the company.
"It will cover about 60 per cent of members but within that there are scales ranging from 80 per cent down to 50 per cent. And it's up to a maximum of £12,000-a-year - which will never go up - when some members had paid into a pension that should have been £20,000-25,000.
"There are those of us who will get only 50 per cent in 15 years' time. By the time I retire it will be less than the state pension."
Mr Marnes said he was particularly concerned that none of the Government's provisions covered pensioners' partners.
He said the Community Union and Amicus were due to meet the European Commissioners in Luxembourg this week to press for a fair deal for people whose pension expectations had been dashed by company failures.
"The fight definitely goes on," he said.