Pensioners turn out in force to campaign for their rights

Pension Protestors SUS-150415-103356001
Pension Protestors SUS-150415-103356001

The protestors were part of the Equitable Members Action Group (EMAG).

They say they are representing around 10,000 local victim families over “the decision of the Government not to fully honour the recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman to compensate 1.3m families for their pension losses caused by decades of regulatory failures that led to the collapse of Equitable Life in 2000.”

They made their point by displaying a coffin draped with a poster, which read ‘Another 15 Equitable Life pensioners died today, waiting for justice’.

They are calling for cross-party political support to get the situation resolved.

Colin Downes from EMAG said: “Victims of the 15 year campaign for justice are outraged that despite the Chancellor reporting that the economy is growing and borrowing costs are falling, he has chosen to use Treasury funds to pay down the deficit rather than honour the £3bn debt owed to pensioners.

Lives have been devastated by people losing a huge proportion

“The March Statement did nothing for these responsible victim families.

“Lives have been devastated by people losing a large proportion of their pensions. Families need their outstanding compensation, which will now be spent in the UK to create jobs, wealth, taxes and encourage saving for the future and payment would help restore faith in our politicians to keep their pledges.”

He added: “Dinah Morrison, an 80 year old disabled Bexhill victim, has seen her pension collapse and has no way of making up the shortfall.

“She blames this Government for the increasing loss of independence and dignity in retirement. Over 50,000 policyholders have died waiting for justice and a further 15 die each day often leaving dependents inadequately provided for.

Victim David Ellis said he cannot encourage his family or friends to save into pensions because they cannot trust the Government to honour the published safeguards for their savings.

Last October hundreds of EMAG protestors took part in a rally at Westminster.

They were joined by actress and former Bond girl Honor Blackman, herself a policyholder, and who has been the face of a number of protests.

She said: “In 2010 there seemed a real chance that at last we would get our losses compensated. But the incoming government tried to do things on the cheap. Instead of honouring its debts the government decided to bundle our debt in with the public spending review and treat it like some kind of charity scheme.”

The virtual collapse of the Equitable Life insurer 15 years ago wiped billions off the value of policyholders’ pensions, bonds and other savings plans.

It also set in motion a decade-long campaign for redress, resulting in a pledge by the Conservatives that the public purse should compensate for “regulatory maladministration”.

But in the 2010 spending review, the money made available by George Osborne was approximately a quarter of the total losses calculated. At the time, Mr Osborne said the payment was scaled back to be “fair to taxpayers”.

The Government has paid £1bn compensation out of a maximum £1.5bn it earmarked for the redress process.

Policyholders, though, want almost £3bn extra in compensation – which would bring the total to £4.3bn.

EMAG spokesperson Paul Weir said: “This is not a charitable payment we’re asking for, it’s the settlement of a debt. The Government has accepted the calculations of what is owed, and it should pay.”

If you have been affected and would like to find out more about EMAG, or join, then visit http://www.emag.org.uk.

Their comprehensive website has full details of the campaign so far and how to get involved at a regional level.