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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Pensions 'help' for steelworkers
ASW workers on pensions march
ASW workers have campaigned over their lost pensions
Workers who lost pensions when Allied Steel and Wire collapsed could benefit as part of government proposals to strengthen pension provision in the UK.

Steel workers in Cardiff lost most of their pensions when the firm collapsed in July 2002.

Now an increase has been announced in the Financial Assistance Scheme to help people in a similar position.

Available to those within 3 years of pension age, it will include those within 15 years, on a sliding scale.

Money available rises from 400 million to 2 billion.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton said: "Under this extension, the Government will top-up 80% of expected core pension for those within seven years of scheme pension age, 65% for those within eight to 11 years of scheme pension age and 50% for the remainder."

When you share the pot out it won't be enough for everybody
Ex-ASW worker Peter Georgadis

Peter Georgadis, 55, worked at ASW for 34 years and paid into the pension for 25 years, would have qualified under the sliding scale because he was 51 when the firm went bust.

He said "any money is welcome" but he felt 2bn was not enough.

"When you share the pot out it won't be enough for everybody," he said.

"Even 2bn is coppers if you look at the whole pension scenario across the UK.

"If I'd retired at 60 and lived to 80 like my father did I would have had something between 250,000 and 300,000 paid out in pension. Now I'm going to get something like 10% of that. What good is that going to be?"

Furnace at ASW in Cardiff
ASW's Cardiff plant closed down in July 2002

Speaking at the TUC Conference in Llandudno First Minister Rhodri Morgan said that the announcement was "a very considerable increase" and that people in similar positions to those in ASW would benefit as well.

It had been predicted that the government White Paper to strengthen pension provision in the UK would include plans to help those who lost out when firms collapsed.

The former ASW steelworkers' plight contributed to a government decision to set up in 2004 the 400m Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) to assist workers who lost pensions when their firms went bust.

However, many of the ASW workers did not qualify for help.

Speaking in Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Cardiff North Labour MP Julie Morgan raised the case of John Flynn from Llanishen, Cardiff, who worked for ASW for 30 years, and was due to retire next year at 65.

He will receive a pension of 80, instead of the 800 per month he was expecting.

Mrs Morgan asked if the FAS could be extended to help Mr Flynn and other ASW pensioners.

Mr Blair replied that there was a "strong and compelling" campaign for a review.

Our house is paid for and we've got no debt, but a lot of people are not as fortunate as that. A lot of people out there are struggling
Hilary Morris

He added: "I said we would expedite it then - we have done so and the secretary of state for work and pensions will be making a statement on the Pensions White Paper tomorrow (Thursday) that will deal with this issue."

Hilary Morris, from Fairwater, Cardiff, whose husband Patrick lost much of his pension after working at ASW for 26 years, said she may have to work until 65 instead of her planned retirement age of 61, to help make her family financially secure.

She said: "I don't mind working, it keeps me going, but I would like to cut the hours down.

"Our house is paid for and we've got no debt, but a lot of people are not as fortunate as that. A lot of people out there are struggling."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
"When ASW went bust they were told they would hardly get anything"



SEE ALSO:
State pension age to rise to 68
25 May 06 |  Business


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