Work and Pensions Committee to pick over Vauxhall pension scheme and its £840m deficit, as well as retirement funds at BHS and Bernard Matthews

Hayley Kirton
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The MPs are also raising questions about the pension pots of Bernard Matthews and BHS (Source: Getty)

A group of MPs revealed today they are having a closer look at Vauxhall's pension pot, the day after it was announced the European unit of the motoring brand's owner was being purchased by French car firm PSA.

The Work and Pensions Committee also said it is scrutinising the status of Bernard Matthews' retirement funds and the recent £363m settlement by Sir Philip Green for the black hole in the BHS pensions.

PSA, the firm that owns Peugeot and Citroen, reached a deal yesterday to buy the European operations of Vauxhall's parent company General Motors.

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Vauxhall's pension fund is £840m in deficit, according to GM UK's most recent set of accounts.

The Work and Pensions Committee is now looking for assurances on how much attention the pension was given when the deal was negotiated and how involved the regulator is with the scheme. Frank Field, the chair of the committee, has written to The Pensions Regulator, the chair of Vauxhall's pension scheme and the PSA group, looking for more information on these points.

The committee has good reason for raising questions around company sales and pension pots. When BHS collapsed into administration last year, it was running a pensions deficit worth £571m, if it were to be brought out by insurer. The year before, the retailer had been sold off for £1.

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The pensions crisis at the high street store chain sparked an inquiry from the Work and Pensions Committee.

It was announced last week the Pensions Regulator had struck a deal with former BHS owner Green to plug the gap in the schemes. The Work and Pensions Committee has also said today it is looking for more details on this settlement.

In particular, Field is seeking more details on how the deal with business tycoon compares with the levels of benefits the scheme members would have received under the Pension Protection Fund and under the original pension plan, had the company not gone belly up.

Read more: Sir Philip Green plugs yet another pensions deficit

He has also asked for more information on the £20m of the £363m which has been earmarked for the administrative costs of setting up the new BHS pension fund.

The committee has also written to Deloitte, who is the administrator for Bernard Matthews, and to Boparan Holdings, which gobbled up the turkey farmer's assets, asking about what provisions have been made for pensions.

In addition, the MPs are also picking over the details of the Trinity Mirror pension scheme. The committee wrote to those overseeing the company's retirement funds earlier this year to question the rationale behind the newspaper firm embarking on a share buyback programme at a time when its pension has a multimillion pound deficit.

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