Blackman on Equitable payouts rally

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THE plight of thousands of pensioners who are shut out of a £1.5bn Equitable Life compensation scheme will be highlighted in a demonstration outside Parliament today.

Actress Honor Blackman, who had a pension with the mutual which was brought to its knees more than a decade ago, will be on the rally organised by the Equitable Members Action Group (Emag).

The group is lobbying the Government over a decision to leave 10,000 people out of the compensation scheme because they bought their annuities before a cut-off point in 1992.

Former Bond girl and Avengers star Blackman has been a strong supporter of Emag’s campaigning and around 300 people are expected to attend the rally.

Emag spokesman Paul Weir told The Times earlier this week: “The Government claims that if you started your annuity a month before September 1992, magically you lost nothing, whereas if you started a month later you lost thousands - it’s absurd and cruel.”

The Government has set aside £1.5bn to compensate existing and former policyholders at the society after the Parliamentary Ombudsman identified 10 instances of maladministration by regulators and Whitehall officials in relation to Equitable in the period leading up to December 2001.

It is estimated that policyholders at Equitable Life have lost £4.3 billion compared with if they had held their money with another institution.

A previous update issued by the Government revealed the majority of Equitable Life policy holders would receive less than a quarter of the money they lost.

In July, the Government said that more than 90 per cent of people included in the Equitable Life Payment Scheme had been contacted one year into the scheme’s operation and payouts had been made to more than 280,000 people.

About two-thirds of individual policyholders eligible for a payment had received it, the Government said.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The Government set up the Equitable Life Payments Scheme to provide payments to around 950,000 policyholders by April 2014.

“The scheme continues to make good progress, with tens of thousands more policyholders having received payment since the scheme last reported progress in July.

“The scheme will issue a further progress report in the New Year, but with approaching £500m distributed by the scheme, the scheme remains on track for completion by April 2014.”