MPs to listen to steelworkers on FSCS compensation concerns

Hannah Godfrey reports...

Night view of Big Ben and Westminster Bridge in London http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1999508/LB/londonLB.jpg

Steelworkers caught up in the British Steel DB transfer debacle will have an audience with members of parliament later this month to discuss the controversy over the compensation they have received from the FSCS.

Up to 15 steelworkers are heading to Westminster on the morning of Thursday 22 November for a meeting that will be hosted by Welsh constituency MPs Nick Smith and Steven Kinnock.

In addition to Kinnock and Smith, the Financial Conduct Authority will be invited, and it is hoped Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field will also attend.

The steelworkers in question were advised by Active Wealth UK – a now liquidated advice firm – that worked with unregulated introducer Celtic Wealth Management, and has been accused of giving the workers poor advice.

Earlier this month, Echelon Wealthcare managing director Alastair Rush, who is also a founding member of CHIVE – a pro bono group set up to help the steelworkers – wrote to the aforementioned MPs to express concern over the way the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) calculates redress.

Rush alleged the methodology used by the lifeboat scheme had disadvantaged the steelworkers in several ways, leaving them inadequately compensated.

The FSCS later responded, telling Retirement Planner’s sister publication Professional Adviser it was ready to discuss its compensation calculation with the steelworkers or their representatives.

‘Pulled to pieces’

Rush said: “These men are decent and honourable workers who were lied to and who now, in some instances, find themselves without any compensation at all. I don’t think any of us can look at that and regard it as an optimal outcome.

“Twelve months on, it is an injustice that will notgo away. I know it has affected men’s health and their careers. It is devastating for me to hear these men, baffled and bewildered, their voices cracking with emotion.

He added: “I think all advisers just want to see the right thing done for these men – we’re sick of seeing our profession pulled to pieces by sharp and unlawful practice. We want justice not only done, but also seen to be done.”

Rush argued that while the FSCS handbook defines how it arrives at compensation, it can depart from compensation specifics it if feels it is essential in order to provide the claimant with fair redress.

“It is important to note we are not storming Westminster – we are simply coming to see that all parties are up-to-date on all matters and to consider how to progress,” he added. “It is a form of annual general meeting – nothing more than that. We feel this is a logical way for all interested parties to remain informed.”