Business pressure forces changes to pensions Bill

Industry pressure has forced the Government to amend the Pensions Bill, according to reports.

The Independent newspaper said amendments include reversing legislation which could have left individual directors and shareholders responsible for pensions shortfalls.

The National Association of Pension Funds and the British Venture Capital Association led a business consortium lobbying for change.

The main concern was a clause which would have enabled fund trustees to pursue former company owners 10 or 20 years down the line, even if they were not personally responsible.

This has now been amended so that the pensions regulator can only look at cases where companies have failed to act within six years.

The potential for individual shareholders or directors to be held responsible was another major concern which has now been amended.

An amendment was also made to ‘moral hazard’ clauses in the Bill, to prevent companies dumping pension liabilities on the Pension Protection Fund.

Malcolm Wicks, minister of state for pensions said: “With the moral hazard clauses in the Bill we have sent a strong message to unscrupulous employers. They can’t use company structures and business transactions as a cover for avoiding their pensions obligations and dumping their liabilities.”

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