‘PM must act over Carrington Wire’

A YORKSHIRE MP has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene to save the pensions of 500 former factory workers.

Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis has raised repeated concerns about the length of time it is taking the Pensions Regulator to complete its investigation into the pension scheme at Carrington Wire. Concerns have been raised that former staff at Carrington Wire, based in Elland, West Yorkshire, are facing “serious hardship” because the regulator’s investigation has dragged on for four years. Now Mr Jarvis has written to Mr Cameron calling on the Prime Minister to resolve the case. 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, Craig Whittaker, the Conservative MP for Calder Valley, 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. In his letter to Mr Cameron, Mr Jarvis notes that he’s raised the case of Carrington Wire in the House of Commons on four separate occasions. Mr Jarvis says: “In light of the recent debate on our country’s economic links with Russia, I’d now like to ask that you intervene to help resolve this case in the interests of the families left in a position of financial hardship.”

Mr Jarvis told The Yorkshire Post: “I am extremely concerned about the length of time it is taking to deal with this matter.

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“It is unacceptable that it has dragged on for so long and compounded the anguish of the families involved. It is essential that the Government ensures the Pensions Regulator has the necessary resources to carry out this detailed investigation - and I have asked for such assurances.

“Given the current debate about our economic relationship with Russia, it seems a useful opportunity to see what influence can be leveraged on the Russian authorities to both resolve this matter and also prevent it from happening again”.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that the Pensions Regulator has an ongoing investigation into Carrington Wire.

The spokesman referred the Yorkshire Post to comments made by Pensions Minister Steve Webb, in response to a question tabled by Mr Jarvis in May this year.

Mr Webb said: “This is a matter for the Pensions Regulator which has operational independence.

“Inevitably, in complex cases involving foreign companies where it appears that scheme abandonment may have taken place, it can take some time for the regulator to complete the thorough investigations needed to establish whether the legal tests in relation to its ‘anti-avoidance’ powers, including the power to issue contribution notices, are met.”

A Severstal spokesman said: “Severstal acquired Carrington Wire in 2006. In spite of financial support and initiatives to return the business to profitability, a dramatic contraction of the market for steel wire led to the company, after exploring all options, winding down and selling the business in 2010. Severstal met all of its obligations to fund the pension scheme while Carrington Wire was under its ownership.”

A spokesman for the Pensions Regulator said: “The investigation is ongoing and a hearing is listed and due to commence in January 2015, where the Determinations Panel will be asked to make a determination in accordance with the provisions of the Pensions Act.”