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Bill could save plumbers from pension debt nightmare

A Bill that gets its second reading in Parliament next month has the potential to rescue plumbers trapped in a pension scheme nightmare. Some people have been told they could face liabilities of tens of thousands of pounds if they or an employee try to leave a defined-benefit pension scheme, or if they try to make certain changes.

The Plumbing Employers’ Action Group (PEAG) is urging anyone affected by Section 75 employers’ debt to contact their MP urgently to ask them to support the Multi-employer Pension Scheme Bill, which will get its second reading on 6 July 2018.

PEAG’s Claire Smith says: “The Bill could be the solution we so desperately need. It’s critical that pressure is applied to all the relevant MPs to ensure they support this Bill as it goes through the Parliamentary process.

“Nobody needs to be a rocket scientist to see that, if it was to be applied, it has the ability to rescue most if not all employers.

“If pension employers do not have the support of their MPs and their MPs do not support the Bill at its second reading, then we cannot get the solution we so desperately need.”

The Bill, being put forward by Alan Brown MP, has cross-party support.

Under Section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995, employers 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.

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