MP demands action to protect pensions of ex-wire factory staff

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A YORKSHIRE MP has called on the Government to take immediate action to protect the pensions of 500 former workers at a Yorkshire factory.

Concerns have been raised that former staff at Carrington Wire are facing “serious hardship” because an investigation by the Pensions Regulator into the fate of their pension scheme has gone on for too long.

According to Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis, the uncertainty caused by the Pensions Regulators’ failure to complete its investigation is causing distress to Yorkshire people who could lose tens of thousands of pounds.

In 2012, Mr Jarvis and Craig Whittaker, the Conservative MP for Calder Valley, met Pensions Minister Steve Webb and the Pensions Regulator because they were concerned about the length of time it was taking to complete the investigation.

Around 500 members of the Carrington Wire pension scheme want the Pensions Regulator to take action to save their pensions. Carrington Wire closed with the loss of more than 80 jobs in 2010. Russian parent company Severstal said the decision was due to a contraction in the steel wire market.

In 2010, Mr Whittaker wrote to the Pensions Regulator, calling for an investigation into the position of the company’s pension scheme after Carrington Wire was sold out of the Severstal group.

Last year, a spokesman for the members of the pension scheme said that, the “more generous” payments under the Carrington Wire scheme have been reduced to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) level.

“This is causing serious hardship to people who took early retirement and have not yet reached state pensionable age,” the spokesman said.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Jarvis said yesterday: “For some time I’ve been working with the Pensions Minister and the Yorkshire Post to bring about a satisfactory conclusion to the Carrington Wire pension fund saga – something that affects hundreds of pensioners in Yorkshire including in my constituency. This case is important because it represents the way in which the Government protects UK pension holders.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that the laws and regulations we have properly protect the public. The longer this matter takes to resolve, the less likely it looks as if this is the case. How can the Leader of the House ensure that we get the opportunity to discuss this matter?”

In response, Andrew Lansley, the Leader of the House, said he would make sure that the Pensions Minister responded.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Jarvis said: “Although I understand the complexities of this case, I’m now increasingly concerned at the amount of time it is taking to resolve. We must make sure that justice delayed does not become justice denied. This case is important because it represents the way in which the UK Government protects the interests and rights of UK pension holders in a complex interdependent global market. It is our responsibility as UK public policy makers to ensure that our laws and regulations are fit for purpose and they protect the public.”

In a letter to Mr Jarvis, the Pensions Minister Steve Webb said that he appreciated Mr Jarvis’s concerns. He added: “In order for the Pensions Regulator to assess whether the use of its powers is appropriate it needs to gather all the relevant evidence and documentation... this can be a time-consuming process.”

Severstal has declined to comment.