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Major inquiry into pension law to follow BHS

31 May 2016

Frank Field MP announced the upcoming launch of a new inquiry to follow on from the inquiries into BHS.

Chair's comment

The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee said:

"The state of the British Steel pension scheme is further worrying evidence of a wider danger to one of the biggest savings successes in Britain during the last century – occupational pension schemes. The Select Committees' in-depth case study on BHS is illustrating how such schemes are already creaking from rising life expectancy and record low returns on capital.

Pension law and regulation must urgently adapt to the issues of the future, rather than the problems of the past. The whole savings edifice is in danger.

That is why I welcome the Government considering radical proposals in its consultation on British Steel pensions. But we should be under no illusions that British Steel is a special case. 11 million people have private defined benefit pensions. More than 5,000 of the associated schemes are in deficit to the tune of £805 billion while the combined surpluses of other schemes is £4 billion."

 On the importance of this inquiry, Frank Field MP added:

"The Committee will of course respond to the Government on British Steel, but we will be going much, much further to consider defined benefit pension schemes in their entirety. The impact on millions of people's living standards from intergenerational trade-offs of income and wealth are brutal.

It's not now simply that children in today's nurseries will be paying for our pensions and healthcare – it may be that – but the pension promises for today's pensioners are being stacked up against the jobs of those people who followed them into the firm.

This will be a major inquiry considering radical solutions to one of the great problems of this age. The inquiry will consider, amongst other things, radical solutions that could be more easily implemented if real returns on capital rise again."

Further information

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