HL Deb 27 March 2002 vol 633 cc67-8WA
Lord Borrie

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider action to remedy the fact that a significant number of people formerly employed by the training and enterprise councils in England and Wales (now in liquidation) are being denied full year-for-year pension rights on their transfer to the Learning and Skills Council. [HL3393]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

Training and enterprise councils (TECs) were private companies and it was for them to determine the remuneration levels and pension arrangements for their staff. A range of different pension schemes were in place across the TEC network, including final salary, group money purchase and group personal pension schemes.

TEC staff transferred under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, 1981 (TUPE) to the Learning and Skills Council and joined the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) unless they chose to opt out. The Department for Education and Skills is ensuring that every member of the various TEC pension schemes, whether money purchase or final salary, has been granted their full statutory rights in relation to transfer values from their scheme. It has also worked to ensure that those transferred have been treated fairly and consistently, securing a range of flexibilities within PCSPS which will benefit the pension arrangements of many transferees.

The transfer value of a pension is dependent upon the available assets within the scheme and funding decisions made by the employer and/or the individual. This has meant that many former TEC staff will be able to secure year-for-year transfer values in PCSPS, while some will secure more than year-for-year and others less.

The only circumstance where it would be appropriate for the Government to consider taking action would be where it became evident that a TEC had not fully met its contractual and legal obligations in respect of its pension arrangements and we are not aware at present of any such cases.