FIVE hundred former workers at a Yorkshire wire factory are facing financial hardship, unless immediate action is taken to protect their pensions, a Government Minister was told yesterday.
Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis and Craig Whittaker, the Conservative MP for Calder Valley, met Pensions Minister Steve Webb and Pensions Regulator Stephen Soper yesterday because they wanted to know why it has taken more than two years to complete the investigation into the fate of the pension scheme at Carrington Wire, in Elland, West Yorkshire.
According to Mr 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. 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 Carrington Wire pension scheme, after Carrington Wire was sold out of the Severstal group. It’s alleged that, at the time of the sale, the Carrington Wire pension scheme had liabilities of around £18m.
Mr Jarvis said yesterday: “For more than two years, members of the Carrington Wire pension scheme have had to live with the uncertainty surrounding their pensions. Today’s meeting was about finally trying to give them some reassurances that this saga will soon be at an end. There is now much greater urgency involved in this case, because at the end of September, Carrington Wire may be de-registered by Companies House, resulting in the scheme defaulting into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). If that happens, then members of the pension scheme could lose a large proportion of their benefits.”
A spokesman for the The Pensions Regulator said Mr Soper had explained the approach to complex investigations during the meeting.
The spokesman added: “The regulator has had regular contact with the trustees of the Carrington Wire Pension Scheme since the start of this investigation. The regulator is not aware of any proposed events in September that will either result in the Carrington Wire Pension Scheme entering the PPF, or restrict our ability to exercise powers to protect pension scheme members.”