Scheme administrators struggling to locate 400,000 policyholders who could benefit |
The Treasury has today announced that the Equitable Life Payment Scheme (ELPS), which had been due to close in April 2014, has been extended until the middle of 2015. The scheme was established to compensate victims of the Equitable Life near-collapse, who had pensions or investments with the firm, and which they took out after 1 September 1992. The reason for the extension is the difficulty in contacting a significant number of those entitled to compensation.
Although the government agreed as far back as 2010 that victims who had lost money should receive compensation, with the first payments being made to policyholders in 2010, it has still not succeeded in identifying all of those eligible for redress. The reason behind the delay is that the customer contact information it received from Equitable Life was incomplete. Some of the contact details were out of date, while there were no contact details at all listed for other customers.
Equitable Members' Action Group offered to provide its database of 350,000 policyholders Some time ago, the Equitable Members' Action Group (EMAG) offered to supply its database of some 350,000 consumers who were registered with them to the Treasury. However, the department rejected this proposal, claiming that such action would be in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The extension is to allow as many people as possible benefit as report suggested 200,000 might get nothing A damning investigation by the Commons Public Accounts Committee recently found that up to a fifth of those due compensation, some 200,000 people, might not get any, due to the debacle. The Committee's report also criticized the failure to do sufficient preparation before the redress scheme began. This led to just GBP 168m being distributed instead of GBP 500m, as anticipated, by March 2012, while GBP 577m had been paid out to just over 400,000 policyholders by March 2013. To date, compensation in excess of GBP 730m has been paid to almost 550,000 victims.
EMAG welcomes decision but notes that 547,000 with company or trustee scheme policies may be difficult to find While EMAG's Paul Weir welcomed the decision to extend the scheme date, he noted that the most difficult challenge would be locating 547,000 policyholders in company or trustee schemes. In some cases, trustees have retired or moved on while, in others, the companies concerned no longer exist.
A national advertising campaign will ask possible victims to come forward for compensation In an effort to speed up the process of identifying those due compensation, the Treasury will begin running a national advertising scheme to encourage anyone who could be eligible to get in contact. Other methods used to try to trace those affected have included writing to a last known address, if there was one, checking the phone book, checking the electoral register and looking at credit histories.
Any consumers who feel that they may be due compensation should contact the scheme administrators. For further information, visit http://equitablelifepaymentscheme.independent.gov.uk/ or call 0300-0200 150
Any policyholders with policies pre-dating September 1992 can find further information about their scheme at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/equitable-life-payments
For further information about Equitable Members' Action Group, visit http://www.emag.org.uk/
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