Frank Field to FCA: Stop "pussy-footing around" over British Steel pensions

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Steelworkers have to decide whether to switch to a new pension scheme (Source: Getty)

The chair of the Work and Pensions committee has criticised the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) approach to British Steel's pension scheme as "grossly inadequate".

In a letter published today, Frank Field urged the FCA to "stop pussy-footing around and start protecting consumers".

The letter follows evidence presented in parliament on the BSPS last week. MPs forced the regulator to name and shame companies that were "seducing" steelworkers to transfer their pensions against their interests.

"The FCA has been slow and reactive where these sharp practitioners and parasites moved straight in months ago. If the FCA isn’t equipped to pick them out now it should just stop transfers happening while it gets its house in order," he said.

Tata Steel transferred its £15bn pension scheme, which has around 130,000 members, to the Pension Protection Fund in August. Steelworkers have the option of moving into the PPF or switching to a new pension scheme, BSPS2.

The FCA told the committee 2,200 BSPS members have transferred out of the scheme or are in the process of doing so.

"Transferring out of a gold plated final salary pension is generally a terrible idea, except in very particular circumstances, and firms routinely advising people to take this route should be shut out immediately," Field said.

"The FCA is a consumer protection body. It would behove them to stop pussy-footing around and start protecting consumers."

Read more: Tata Steel strikes deal to separate £15bn British Steel Pension Scheme

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