Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Equitable Life. - Government should pay out.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been contacted by local residents, following the publication of the Ombudsman’s report into the Equitable Life scandal.

Now this issue goes back to early 1999 after Equitable Life launched proceedings to cut bonus payments, effectively going back on promises made to policy holders. This affects many people in Warwick & Leamington, some of whom joined Pension Schemes from local employers.

The Ombudsman’s report into the Equitable Life scandal makes very disturbing reading. Its findings show that many Equitable Life policy holders lost money as a direct consequence of regulators failing to keep close enough scrutiny of the company.

The list of the regulatory failures includes:
  • The failure to adequately scrutinise Equitable Life’s returns and accounting policies and the value of its liabilities from 1990 onwards

  • The failure to act on the problems of the differential terminal bonus policy - and the over-bonusing of some investors at the expense of others

  • The failure to force Equitable Life to create a contingency fund to cover the risk of losing the Hyman case - which challenged Equitable Life policies and, if lost, would leave them open to massive liabilities

  • The decision to allow Equitable Life to keep trading after losing the Hyman case

It’s clear that many policy holders have been badly let down by regulators, have suffered financial loss as a result and deserve compensation for the losses caused by the failings of the regulator.

Lib-Dem shadow treasury spokesperson, Vince Cable has taken a very strong line on this:

  • After eight years and 13 reports it’s time for the Government to finally admit that it comprehensively failed to regulate Equitable Life properly.
  • For years ministers have acted like they were in a castle under siege, hoping that Equitable Life policy holders would give up and go away. Today’s report shows that, rightly, this is not going to happen.
  • Gordon Brown has overseen a complete and repeated failure of regulation spanning a decade. The outrage expressed by policyholders over this ’serial regulatory failure’ is entirely justified.
  • After months of dragging its feet, the Government needs to accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation that ‘wrongs should be remedied’.
  • If ministers choose to disregard this report, as they have done over tax credits and occupational pensions, it will be the final nail in the coffin for the Ombudsman’s credibility.
  • These are large sums of money, especially at a time when belts are being tightened. Gordon Brown must now admit fault and apologise to policyholders.
  • It is critical that the Government now sets out a credible, transparent and independent process to enter into a dialogue with policy holders over compensation.

Vince has also written an excellent article in the Telegraph.

Policy holders who have saved for their retirements, fully deserve fair compensation after this appalling maladministration over more than 10 years.

Links to useful sites.

BBC Website

Equitable Members Action Group

Sunday, August 24, 2008

David Cameron's UK Holiday Sham!

Three weeks ago David Cameron took a holiday in Cornwall in front of the media spotlight to show solidarity with British families affected by the credit crunch.

Yet in secret he has taken his family on a luxury holiday on board a yacht in the Turkish Rivera.

“The break was dubbed an opportunistic attempt by Cameron to show himself as a humble stay-at-home politician who had tightened his belt and gone on holiday in Britain in the wake of the credit crunch” Says the Daily Mail.

'Bucket and spade' Dave has shown his true 'blue' colours by holidaying on a £21,000 a week yacht, surrounded by an armada of seven boats of 74 mates and family and banqueting in the finest restaurants,” added the Mirror.

Well what can I say, this is one in a long line of examples where Cameron will do one thing in front of the camera’s and another when he thinks no one else is looking.

David Cameron has looked the part of a Prime Minister in waiting while Gordon Brown has been floundering. Yet the British people should not be fooled by Cameron. If Cameron becomes our next Prime Minister we can expect more spin than we had under Blair and very little substance.