Guest comment: Credit where it's due

When Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group went into administration at the end of November 2020, there was an immediate media focus on the deficit within the group’s pension scheme.

What had originally been established as the Burton Group scheme in 1972 had become a mature scheme with benefits for some 10,000 members, and a reported deficit of £350m (although it remains unclear on which basis this has been calculated) suggests strongly that benefits will ultimately be provided by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The national media wasted little time in concluding that this would be a ‘bad thing’.

The reality, of course, is the exact opposite. Since its establishment by the 2004 Pensions Act, the PPF has provided benefits for 380,000 members who would otherwise have received little or nothing following the insolvency of their scheme’s sponsor.

Whilst the media might rail against the reduction of benefits – with some members receiving ‘only’ 90 per cent of their accrued pension rights – there has been little discussion of benefits for pensions in payment being safeguarded in full.

These include benefits for former CEO Sir Ralph Halpern, which reportedly amount to £1m a year.

The PPF has never really received the credit it deserves for being so successful. Before it was even launched, its detractors were confidently predicting its inevitable bankruptcy.

The truth is that over the past 15 years the PPF has performed an essential (if unfortunate) role and has proved to be very successful. We should all show it our gratitude

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