Green must protect BHS pensioners or risk facing MPs again, warns Frank Field

 
Shruti Tripathi Chopra
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Decision Imminent On The Future Of BHS And 11,000 Jobs
BHS collapsed into administration in April 2016 (Source: Getty)

Pensions of former BHS workers must be protected under any deal struck by billionaire tycoon Sir Philip Green, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field has said.

Green, who sold BHS for £1 in March 2015 to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell, is nearing a £350m deal to save pensions of ex-BHS workers, Sky News reported over the weekend.

An unsatisfactory deal may result in Green and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) being hauled in front of MPs to give evidence.

Field said: “The key test is whether pensioners and future pensioners will get from this deal the pensions they expected before Sir Philip took ownership of BHS.

“The Committee will be very pleased if there is a deal but will carefully analyse it to assess whether existing and future pensioners have been disadvantaged, and we may well call Sir Philip and The Pensions Regulator back to give evidence if the deal is unsatisfactory in this regard.”

Field and Green have been at loggerheads over the handling of the BHS crisis.

In October, Green published a report from Lord Pannick QC, that slammed MPs for branding him the "unacceptable face of capitalism".

In December, Field criticised Green for failing to deliver on promises made to pensioners.

He said: “Six months ago Sir Philip promised parliament that he would ‘sort’ the pension scheme, but he hasn’t done that. He has made that promise in many ways, many times, before and since. But he hasn’t done it. The Pensions Regulator, after two years of negotiations, asked him to make a reported £350m contribution to the hole in the pension fund. He hasn’t done that."

Read more: MPs demand Sir Philip Green ends BHS black hole

BHS went into administration in April last year leading to 11,000 job losses. The collapsed retailer's pension deficit stood at £571m when Green sold the company to Chappell’s Retail Acquisitions.

TPR is in talks with Green and his advisers over settlement offers.

A TPR spokesperson said: "We remain in discussion with Sir Philip’s advisers. Any settlement offer we accept has to be robust enough to stand the test of time and mean that members and the PPF [Pension Protection Fund] are not left in a worse position further down the road."

Read more: Timeline: How the collapse of BHS unfolded

In November, TPR launched an "enforcement action" into Green and sought redress for 20,000 BHS pension scheme members.

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