This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 22nd May 2019.
Recently I met with a group of constituents who are among the 3,000 affected by the failure of the AEA Technology (AEAT) Pension Scheme. Today, I write on their behalf.
As some of you may be aware, the Government privatised the commercial arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority as AEA Technology plc in 1996 which was then based at Harwell. As part of the privatisation, most of the staff who were transferred to AEAT were also persuaded to transfer their past pension service, accrued in the UK AEA pension schemes, into the new defined benefit AEAT Pension Scheme.
In November 2012 AEAT went into a pre-pack administration and disposed of its pension liabilities. The AEAT Pension Scheme went into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) in July 2016. This means that pensions accrued before April 6, 1997, are frozen. Pensioners stand to lose around 35 per cent of their pensions, some much more.
AEAT Pensioners tell me they were influenced by incomplete and misleading advice, provided by UK AEA and from the Government Actuary’s Department, an official body. They have been fighting a campaign to reinstate the pension rights that were promised to them at the time of privatisation ever since.
I am supporting the pensioners in their campaign. I have met ministers on several occasions to discuss their claim and have written to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, the Work and Pensions Committee, and the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee asking them to initiate investigations on behalf of the pensioners within their respective remits.
I am working with other Members of Parliament who represent AEAT pensioners in their constituencies, chief among them Sir Oliver Letwin MP and Sir Paul Beresford MP, and together we are leading a campaign in Parliament to right this wrong.
I will be bringing a bill to the House of Commons in June, with the aim of legislating to allow the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to investigate the pensioners claim against the Government’s Actuary’s Department, something that the PHSO currently are unable to do as they believe it to be outside the scope of their powers.
If you are my constituent and a AEAT pensioner and want to know more about the campaign, or wish to make your views known, then please contact me (email@example.com) and offer your support to the AEAT Pension Campaign (AEAPensionProtest@gmail.com).