As we announced in the White Paper on pensions reform, eligibility for the financial assistance scheme will be extended to all those who meet the other qualifying conditions and were within 15 years of their scheme’s pension age on 14 May 2004. This means that about 40,000 people will receive assistance totalling more than £2 billion over approximately 50 years.
Is the Minister aware that many of my constituents lost their company pensions when Albert Fisher went into receivership? At first, they welcomed the announcement to extend the Financial Services Authority scheme and assumed that they would be entitled to 80 per cent. of their original pensions. However, the company pension expert, Ross Altmann, has looked into various matters, including the non-indexation of capital sums, and it would appear that my constituents may only get 20 per cent. of their original entitlement. Is that the case?
No, that is rubbish, actually. We made our proposals, and the fact that there would be taper, absolutely clear. That will help us to reach more people and it amounts to a significant extension of the scheme from £400 million to £2.3 billion. Unless the Conservative party is going to provide more funds to extend it even further, it should accept what we have done and welcome it.