At Wednesday’s hearing of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Allan Johnston (Chair of the Trustees) told us that there were some 30,000 people who had yet to submit their option to BSPS in their Time to Choose. Although he is right to say this is actually a low number relative to the 130,000 people given the Time, and represents a “success” relative to similar requests at other schemes, 30,000 is still a big number.
It is ten times the average home gate of Yeovil Town FC (well we might get a few more if our cup run continues)!
You can probably find your own comparator to imagine what 30,000 people look like sat together.
But they are more than a number or even a crowd. They are all people who BSPS has served for years, they have all paid in and been promised a benefit.
Doing nothing between now and December 22nd (today week as I write) will mean each individual will have their pension paid not by BSPS but by the Government lifeboat- the pension protection fund.
Some people may still think that because Tata Steel UK is still operating and that the Liberty and Greybull business are still employing and pensioning members, that doing nothing means business as usual. It doesn’t.
PPF v BSPS2
For the vast majority of those 30,000 individuals, the new pension scheme set up by TATA with the help of Government , will mean more money in retirement. How much more will vary, if you want to do the sums you can still go to the Time to Choose website and do the sums, you can speak to the helpline, you can call TPAS and you might get a meeting with the advisers who have promised their time pro bono under Project Chive.
You may have heard me saying the same things on the Radio yesterday. Thanks to You and Yours for making time available to get this message out.
Regrets, we’ll have a few.
I am not looking forward to the anxiety that we will hear from BSPS members over Christmas. Anyone who is submitting their forms today, will have to contend with the Christmas post and will have an anxious wait for the letter of confirmation back.
The Facebook pages are already full of complaints from members who understandably are anxious to have a digital communication telling them their option form has been received and being processed ;Email, text or social media message would do!
I very much hope that BSPS will be considerate to the timeframes, to the numbers and to the vagaries of the Christmas post. I cannot make the promise, it is not mine to make, but it might be a good idea for BSPS to make a communication through the website which can be conveyed via social and broadcast media. I expect to be on the radio again on Saturday.
Let’s focus on these 30,000 for now!
Many of the 30,000 never worked for British Steel, they are the widows and occasional husbands of steel workers. They may not think they have a choice – they do. You may know these people and you may be able to help them with their choice.
Managing the data for such a large number of people is hard, every week steelworkers die, move house, emigrate – they can change name, they can even change sex! It is not surprising that many are still unaware not just that it is their time to choose but that now it is in their interests to choose.
So wherever you read this, whoever you are, if you know someone who has worked in the steel industry or who was married to someone who did , ask them a simple question
“have you filled in your options form and sent it to the British Steel Pension Scheme?”