Local MP have written to the UK Government over concerns many elderly people who were steelworkers will lose out financially unless changes are made to the restructuring deal of a pension scheme previously run by Tata Steel.
Last month Tata Steel UK struck a deal to merge with German company, Thyssenkrupp, a deal which essentially allowed its UK plants to stay open.
Prior to the proposed merger the indebted British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) separated from Tata Steel UK following a vote from the workforce.
At the time there was a real danger the company could collapse and the pension scheme ending up in the Pension Protection fund, which would have seen an immediate 10% cut.
Members of the BSPS must now decide whether they want a PPF backed scheme or join a new retirement fund sponsored by Tata Steel UK.
Pensioners are however concerned about this proposition as they feel whatever outcome will leave them financially worse off
Most of those affected by changes will be those pensioners who were members of the old Tata retirement scheme, there are more than 88,000 members of the old scheme are pensioners and many will come from Flintshire
Struggling to pay their bills
Stefan Zaitschenko, a former Tata steelworker helps run a Facebook group for members of the old scheme, he said the failure to uprate pension benefits accrued before 1997 in line with inflation would leave thousands of elderly people — including widows — struggling to pay their bills.
In an FT.com article Mr Zaitschenko highlights the predicament of one widow who was married to a scheme member, he added: “We had one person asking how their 85-year-old mother could afford to stay in her nursing home when the fees go up next year if her pension did not.
“We are realistic and we accept that benefits are going to be reduced. I am 60 and can keep working. Older people can’t.”
Local MPs, Mark Tami and David Hanson, have raised their constituent’s concerns by writing to the Pensions Minister and also Tata Steel UK.
Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said;
“This was obviously a very difficult decision that was made to effectively save the company. We are taking it up with the Government to limit the effect on pensioners as they are understandably concerned, especially those who worked pre 1997, which of course there are plenty in the area.
Whilst the takeover was necessary to secure jobs and ensure the day to day running of Tata continues, it must now be a priority to safeguard the British Steel Pension fund as much as possible, and both David and I will be working with the Government, the Work and Pensions Select Committee and also Tata itself to achieve this.”
Delyn MP David Hanson said;
“The contribution of all those that have worked in the steel industry is well known in Flintshire. They have worked hard in a tough job and have made many sacrifices to ensure that the steel industry could survive. It is only right that we give them the decent retirement they deserve.
Mark and I are working together to ensure that the Government takes note of this contribution. They must now do the right thing and re-appraise their decisions on former British Steel Pension Scheme holders. A fairs days work should result in a fair pension.”