Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband has called on Sir Philip Green to plug the pension deficit at his failed retail firm Arcadia, saying staff “shouldn’t pay the price for his greed.”
Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News this morning, the former Labour leader said that Green “owes a moral responsibility to 12,000 workers who are worried enough about losing their jobs.”
The pension deficit at the retail giant is believed to be in the region of £300m, with Miliband citing the controversial £1.2bn dividend paid by Arcadia to Green’s wife Tina in 2005.
This is not the first time Green has been at the heart of a pension controversy. His ditching of embattled retailer BHS to Dominic Chapell a year before it collapsed was seen by many as a deliberate attempt to avoid the pension bill, a claim he vigorously denied.
He later paid £363m from his personal fortune, after immense political pressure, to plug the gap.
Had he not done so, much of that payment would have come from the Pensions Protection Fund, and ultimately, taxpayers.
Miliband, who will table an urgent question in the House of Commons later today, called on Government to “exert as much pressure” as possible on Green to stump up again.
“Then there’s a wider issue, which is that people can pay themselves eye-watering dividends and then leave the pension fund in the lurch,” he said.
“This is the small minority of businesses, because most businesses don’t operate this way. Most businesses will be appalled at what Philip Green has done.”
Yesterday the Business Secretary Alok Sharma tweeted: “Within three months, the Administrators (of Arcadia) have a duty to file a report on director conduct with The Insolvency Service – who will then determine whether a full investigation is required.
“I will be keeping a close eye on this process.”
Read more: What went wrong at Arcadia?