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Wind-up rules penalise life-long saver
John and Linda Benson
John Benson may have lost four decades of pension contributions
John Benson is 56-years-old and worked at steel company Allied Steel and Wire for 41 years.

He followed in his father's footsteps to join the company - in fact his father was partially responsible for the setting up of the company pension scheme.

When he was made redundant in July, he said to his wife: "Don't worry, we'll be fine, I've got a pension".

However, John and his family received a big shock.

Just 10 days after being made redundant John found out that after contributing to his scheme for decades, he could actually end up with absolutely nothing.

Blessing in disguise

He said: "My father was part of bringing the pension scheme to Allied Steel and Wire, some 27 or 28 years ago.

"And he said this is a damn good pension. When the time comes for you to finish work, retire, the money will be there and you won't have a problem, you will have a good retirement."

Even when he lost his job, John thought that his pension would see him through, and that he would be able to retire early.

He added: "I said well we're okay. We have to sort the pension out but I don't think there's a problem with the pension, so actually losing my job could have been a blessing in disguise for me."

But that was not to be the case.

Anxious wait

Upon hearing the news, his wife Linda - a part-time medical secretary with a small private pension - was not happy.

She said: "I just went mad. What do you mean there's no pension? There's got to be a pension. I said you've paid into that pension scheme and it is your money."

But John was equally as bemused as to how this could have happened. He said they received statement every year, and not once were they told the pension could be in trouble.

The truth is that government legislation and the stock market has conspired against them. The law currently gives priority for pension scheme members who have already retired.

This means the former ASW workers who had already retired were guaranteed their pension, leaving the hundreds of other workers to pick from a pot which was declining rapidly because of the downturn in the stock market.

Now the couple face an anxious wait to find out whether they will get any money back from a pension scheme that John has paid into for 27 years.



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