Nuclear workers campaign to recover £182m pension shortfall

Written by Talya Misiri

Pensioners from the former UK Atomic Energy Authority, now AEA Technology, have launched a campaign to recover an estimated £182m pension shortfall and for the fair treatment of its members.

Former scheme members are calling on the parliamentary and health service ombudsman to investigate the failure of the pension scheme and to recommend compensation of lost benefits.

Over 3,000 pensioners from the AEAT pension scheme lost an average of one third of their pension entitlement, which members claim is a result of business, government and regulatory failure that resulted in the scheme falling into the Pension Protection Fund in 2012.

As a result of this, scheme members are not paid in full, with no indexation of pensions accrued before 5 April 1997, the campaigners added.

The nuclear workers’ campaign is in line with the approach advocated by MP Oliver Letwin who is supporting the scheme's members.

Furthermore, in an attempt to ensure that other pension scheme members do not experience a similar fate to them, pensioners are calling for the reform of the PPF.

Changes that the pensioners want to see implemented include the PPF compensation cap to be removed, the 10 per cent reduction in PPF compensation to be removed, a review of all privatised DB pension schemes and reassurance incorporating the Financial Assistance Scheme into the PPF will not weaken the PPF’s ability to pay compensation.

Prospect negotiator David Luxton said: “The AEAT scandal is as financially ruinous as the BHS debacle but it was public bodies that were at fault in this case. Critical facts were concealed from employees during the privatisation of AEA Technology in 1996.

“Complaints to relevant government departments, ministers, scheme trustees, the PPF and submissions to the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the Pension Ombudsman have fallen on deaf ears.”

Luxton added: “Compensation levels in the Pension Protection Fund are too low in many cases. This is often because of discriminatory treatment of how pre-1997 accruals are indexed.

“PPF compensation should as far as possible match pension promises, particularly those made by the government. PPF compensation should include promised indexation on pension accrued before 1997.”

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