An action group has been set up to raise awareness of the debts that plumbing employers who joined certain pension schemes may be facing.
With some employers being told they may face debt liabilities of tens of thousands of pounds, The Plumbing Employers’ Action Group (PEAG) has been created to raise awareness among plumbing companies, and to help pay for legal advice for those who are affected.
Under section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995, employers participating in defined-benefit pension schemes may become liable to pay a section 75 employer debt if they withdraw from the scheme, cease to have employees who are active members, if their company winds up or becomes insolvent, or if they make certain changes to their legal status (such as moving from a sole trader to a limited company).
This issue affects only those plumbing employers who joined a defined-benefit pension scheme, including the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme, which is administered by Plumbing Pensions (UK). Most members of Plumbing Pensions (UK) were also members of SNIPEF or the APHC.
Set up in 1975, the Plumbing Pensions scheme has been used by more than 4,000 plumbing employers. The section 75 legislation first came into force in 1997, but changes in 2005 altered the way employer debts were calculated, increasing significantly the costs to those participating in the scheme.
Plumbing Pensions UK says: “The Trustee is very concerned about the impact section 75 employer debt legislation is having on businesses who have or are operating the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme. The Trustee has a duty to protect members’ benefits and must follow the law.
“However, it is clear that the legislation is not working as government intended. The Trustee has been and continues to work with the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator to find a way to help employers participating in the Scheme.
“There are some options available under the current legislation that may help employers, such a Flexible Apportionment Arrangement or, from later this year, a Deferred Debt Arrangement. Section 75 employer debt legislation is very complex and employers should seek professional advice.”
Plumbing employers worried about section 75 employer debt can find further information on www.plumbingpensions.co.uk, by calling the pension scheme on 0131 556 9090 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
PEAG is urging any plumbing employers who believe they may be affected by this legislation to contact them on email@example.com.
A Facebook group has also been created at www.facebook.com/PlumbersEmployersActionGroup.