The predicament of BHS is a reflection of a broader issue of the UK Government’s failure to stimulate economic recovery. This issue highlights the fundamental need to address the regulation of the pensions industry and the UK Government need to see this as a lesson, and acknowledge that we need to take action now and not allow businesses to risk such situations in the future.
Approximately 11 million people are relying on a final salary pension run by a private sector company in the UK. Increasingly, these schemes have come under pressure as funding has become stressed with around 5,000 private sector defined benefit schemes now in deficit of more than £900 billion according to Hymans Robertson.
The recently announced inquiry will look at the adequacy of the Pension Regulator’s power and this must be welcomed. Defined Benefit pension schemes fall within the inquiry into the Pension Protection Fund and Pensions Regulator, details of which can be found on the inquiry page.
SNP MPs will be working to strengthen the powers of the regulator in order to ensure that the Philip Greens of the world are dealt with effectively when they seek to avoid their pension responsibilities. Defined benefit pension schemes ultimately need to be placed on a sustainable footing and employees must be protected.
The SNP have long called for the establishment of an independent Pensions Commission to ensure that employee’s savings are protected and a more progressive approach to fairer savings is looked at as we move to a period where defined benefit schemes are becoming a thing of the past.
On the specific issue of Philip Green’s knighthood, as you may be aware, the SNP is completely opposed to the existing honours system and takes no part in it. There have been examples in the past of people forfeiting their honours for one reason or another and you can read more on the subject here: https://www.gov.uk/honours/having-honours-taken-away