ITV given 6 month deadline to support Box Clever scheme

ITV has been given a six month deadline to put in place financial support for the Box Clever pension scheme, after losing its legal challenge against The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Last month (February 2020) the Supreme Court rejected ITV's latest attempt to challenge the regulator's case that it should support the scheme, likely marking the end of the eight-year legal challenge.

TPR’s Determinations Panel has issued financial support directions to ITV and four related entities, which must now show how they will support the scheme comprised around 2,800 members and with a deficit of approximately £115m.

TPR director of enforcement, Erica Carroll, said that, “in a bid to avoid responsibility”, ITV had “used every possible legal channel” to fight against the regulator's actions to safeguard the scheme's members.

“Now they have exhausted the legal process we look forward to receiving a credible plan to support the scheme and its members,” she added.

In June 2019, the Court of Appeal dismissed ITV's challenge to the decision made by the Upper Tribunal the year before, which stated that financial support directions should be issued to ITV in regard to the scheme.

ITV's arguments against the initial ruling were labelled as “without substance” by the court, which found that the Upper Tribunal were correct in its judgement.

The Box Clever pension scheme was formed in 2000 as part of a merger between ITV (then Granada) and Carmelite.

Employees were transferred to the new company and enrolled into the new pension scheme.

Following the scheme’s collapse TPR opened an anti-avoidance investigation, as ITV extracted “significant value from the joint venture”, the regulator said.

“ITV could have resolved this matter years ago and we hope they will now want to seek a swift resolution and provide closure to the scheme’s 2,800 members,” concluded Carroll.

The financial support directions do not specify the form of financial support that should be put in place, so it is ITV's responsibility to construct a proposal, on which TPR will decide whether it is “reasonable”.

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