Further inquiries into AEAT pension scheme unlikely to achieve different outcome - Opperman

Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, has said that any further investigation into the AEA Technology (AEAT) pension scheme would be “most unlikely” to come to an alternate conclusion if initiated.

His claim was in response to a letter from Work and Pensions Committee chair, Stephen Timms, which sought assurances that lessons had been learnt from the company’s administration and its scheme’s subsequent fall into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Opperman pointed to the Pension Schemes Bill, secondary legislation and The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR’s) revised defined benefit (DB) funding code as additional safeguards that will be introduced to provide clearer funding standards.

“This will support scheme trustees and employers to improve the way they manage their scheme funding over the longer term and enable TPR to take action more efficiently to protect scheme members when necessary,” he stated.

“In particular, the bill provides for secondary legislation to define more clearly what is meant by an appropriate recovery plan for addressing funding deficits.”

Opperman noted that whilst some companies will inevitably become insolvent and the government cannot prevent this, the new funding standards will help address pension deficits sooner and minimise the need for the PPF to provide compensation.

The Pensions Ombudsman gave its final ruling on the case in December 2016 and decided that it did not have jurisdiction to investigate the Government’s Actuary Department (GAD) in relation to the complaint.

Opperman added: “While, technically, it would be possible for other scheme members to make a complaint about GAD and seek a decision from the ombudsman, I am advised that unless new information was presented as to why GAD should fall within the ombudsman’s jurisdiction, then it appears unlikely that they would receive a different decision from the one given.”

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