The government has refused to waive its costs if they win a judicial review over its response to the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report on pensions.
In March the Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, published her report - “Trusting in the Pensions Promise” - which accused the government and, in particular, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of maladministration regarding information provided to people in occupational pension schemes.
However, the government dismissed the report and its recommendations to pay compensation to 125,000 workers, who have lost some or all of their pensions through company insolvency, on the grounds it was not guilty of maladministration and that the burden of compensation would fall on the taxpayer.
Since then, the Pension Action Group (PAG) applied to the High Courts for a judicial review on 14 June, and has asked for the case to be adjourned until the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) completed its own enquiry into the matter.
Dr Ros Altmann, spokeswoman for the PAG, says when it filed the paper for the judicial review, it asked the government not to force the complainants to pay the government’s legal costs if the review should fail.
But Altmann reveals yesterday the PAG finally found out the government had refused the request, meaning pensioners and workers who have already lost some or all of their pensions, would also have to pay for the government’s defence.
She says: “This is just such a disgrace, they must see what they are doing is wrong, but they just don’t seem to care. I hope I’m wrong but that’s how it seems, and now on top of denying people compensation for their lost pensions, they are now trying to frighten them into not taking legal action.”
The announcement follows the government’s recent move to limit its losses if it loses an ongoing pensions case in the European Court of Justice, through a temporal limitation order.
Two unions, Amicus and Community, representing 1,000 Allied Steel and Wire (AS&W) workers who lost their pensions when the company collapsed, are currently waiting on the opinion by the advocate general, scheduled for 13 July.
But the UK, Irish and Dutch governments have all applied for temporal limitation orders which would mean only those workers who submitted a claim before a certain date would be eligible for compensation.
Unions are worried if the order is granted, the cut-off date could be as early as 13 July, meaning many workers who have not yet applied for compensation could be left with no means of redress.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7968 4558 or email [email protected]IFAonline
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