MPs seek answers over future of Thomas Cook pension scheme

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has written to the Thomas Cook pension scheme seeking answers about its future, following the collapse of its sponsoring employer.

Committee chair Frank Field wrote to the scheme, as well as The Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), asking why the trustees had asked for £25m ongoing annual funding for the scheme despite its strong funding position.

The Thomas Cook UK Pension Scheme’s latest annual accounts showed a large surplus for the scheme and its most recent triennial valuation, in 2017, showed a “significant improvement” in funding levels.

The future of the pension scheme is currently uncertain following the collapse of its sponsoring employer, Thomas Cook, on 23 September 2019.

The PPF has said that it was ready to step in and safeguard the scheme’s 13,500 members and it is set to undergo funding assessments to establish whether the scheme will enter the PPF.

Field also queried the Thomas Cook scheme chair of trustees, Steve Southern, as to whether the scheme has enough assets to secure member benefits in full or at a level above that of the PPF.

Finally, the MP asked how the trustees would communicate with members about the long-term future of the scheme, to ensure that they are aware of the current situation surrounding their savings.

Following the collapse of Thomas Cook, a PPF spokesperson said: "We want to assure members of Thomas Cook's DB pension schemes that their benefits remain protected by the PPF at what must be a worrying time for all concerned."

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