Baroness Ros Altmann: I still expect Sir Philip Green to sort BHS pension deficit

Hayley Kirton
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Baroness Ros Altmann and former Prime Minister David Cameron
Ros Altmann trusts Green will try to be true to his word (Source: Getty)

Some people may have abandoned hope of the BHS pension deficit being plugged, but a former pensions minister has revealed she still has faith in Sir Philip Green being true to his word.

Baroness Ros Altmann has said that, although the retailer's collapse while it was running a pension deficit worth £571m had shaken people's trust in defined benefit schemes, she was confident the business tycoon would do what he could to sort it out.

"I think Green meant what he said when he told parliament that he was going to sort it," Altmann said in an interview with Peer-to-Peer Finance News. "I don’t have any views on [whether he should lose his knighthood], all I care about is the pensions aspect. He needs to do the right thing by his workers and pay the money."

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The Conservative peer, who was pensions minister from May last year to July this year, also reiterated her belief that the Lifetime Isa could become the next mis-selling scandal.

"If I was a provider I would not want to sell one carelessly," she said. "If you sell it to people without explaining the risks, you run the risk of them coming back in a few years' time saying, 'Hang on a minute – you didn’t tell me I shouldn't have opted out of my workplace pension and give up my employer contribution. You didn’t tell me that there was this huge penalty if I actually want to access my money.'

"Carelessly distributing this product would be against the interest of the providers, never mind the customers."

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BHS fell into administration in April, a little more than a year after it had been sold by Green to Dominic Chappell's Retail Acquisitions for £1.

Its pension schemes, which had 20,000 members, are now being dealt with by the Pension Protection Fund, but Green has previously been reported to be looking for ways to top up the funds.

Meanwhile, the Lifetime Isa was announced in the Budget in March and essentially allows savers to put aside up to £4,000 a year, with government topping up that amount by up to £1,000 a year, to later use to buy a home or to retire.

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