Skip to main content

AEA Technology pension ‘another case of government not giving people enough time or support to make complex financial decisions’

14 June 2023

  • Pension scheme members lost money following inadequate Government advice on scheme transfer
  • “Fundamental right” that people have appropriate and accessible routes of appeal

In a report today the Public Accounts Committee says the Atomic Energy Agency Technology (AEAT) pension case has highlighted gaps in the routes of appeal available for people raising complaints about their pensions, and is another case of government not giving people enough time or support to make complex financial decisions.  

The commercial arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the AEAT was privatised in 1996. Around 4,000 civil servants transferred to the new company, with nearly 90% of them transferring to its new pension scheme. Government gave assurances that the new scheme would have equivalent benefits to the public sector, but did not make clear that the new pension scheme was not guaranteed by government in the same way. When AEAT went into administration in 2012, its pension scheme entered the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) with some members losing significant sums as a result.  

Scheme members were passed from pillar to post in raising complaints with government, with no one taking overall responsibility for their case. The Pensions Ombudsman has said it cannot investigate information given to members in 1996, while the issue is out of current scope for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Committee calls on the Government to make provision to ensure that members’ complaints about the AEAT pension case can now be independently reviewed by a relevant ombudsman. 

In 2022 the PAC inquired into the redress scheme being set up for the British Steel Pension Scheme, where members suffered significant financial harm after receiving unsuitable advice from regulated private financial advisors. The Committee urges Government to show what more it will do to ensure good advice - whether private or official - to help people make informed financial decisions.  

Chair's comments

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“In successive inquiries the PAC and other select committees have found a lack of oversight, joined-up thinking and strategy regarding pensions and pensions regulation. The Government needs to take a long hard look at the lessons of this case and how it frames advice to people affected.” 

Further information

Image: CCO