Today’s announcement that the Government admits maladministration and regulatory failure in the Equitable Life pension debacle will bring some relief to their many policyholders in St Albans. I admit that I myself have pension policies with Equitable Life which were slashed in value – but I was lucky to have diversified pension investments. Many others were not so lucky. They worked and saved for a reasonable retirement in what was held out to be a reliable company and then found that the cupboard was metaphorically bare. It is perfectly clear that Government regulators could have stepped in much earlier to blow the whistle. Sadly there are a whole lot of weasel words in the government statement.
There will only be ‘partial’ compensation for victims who have suffered ‘disproportionately’. We do not yet know the detail. It is all subject to the ‘position of the public finances.’ And of course every month of delay will see more policyholders die before they can receive whatever compensation is due. It really is amazing how bankers are bailed by this government, money no object and no questions asked, yet how grudgingly the really deserving get to be compensated, and only after huge pressure. But this looks like a step forward, and it is a welcome change to hear a minister say ‘Sorry’.