British Steel pensioners had a ‘gun to the head’ says former watchdog Bailey

·2-min read

The former boss of the City watchdog has said that British Steel pensioners had a gun to their head as they made one of the most complex financial decisions of their lives.

Andrew Bailey, who now leads the Bank of England, told MPs that the situation was “ill prepared”.

Mr Bailey was in charge of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as it dealt with some of the fall out from of the poor advice given to many British Steel Pension Scheme members.

Around 8,000 steelworkers transferred away from the defined-benefit scheme, and many suffered losses as a result.

Bank of England Monetary Policy Report
Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey, who used to be the City watchdog, told MPs British Steel pensioners ‘had a gun to their head’ (PA)

They were asked to consider transferring their pension away from the scheme after Tata Steel got into financial difficulty.

During a 2017 restructuring members had to decide what to do with their money, and they only had a limited time to do so.

If they had more than £30,000 in their pot they were required to take financial advice. But much of this advice was bad.

Earlier this year the FCA set out a plan which it said will deliver £71.2 million worth of compensation to those who were misled about their pensions by financial advisers.

Close to half (46%) of all the advice the FCA reviewed turned out to be unsuitable.

“It was ill-prepared to put the members of the British Steel Pension Scheme in what was frankly a very difficult and slightly ‘gun to the head’ situation because of the state of the company to have to make the most complex financial decision that any of us could have to make in our lifetimes,” Mr Bailey told the Public Accounts Committee.

“It is inherently an extremely complex calculation.”

He hit back at allegations that the FCA had not done enough to protect the scheme members.

“Please don’t think the FCA was sitting on information not doing anything, that was not the case,” he said.

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