Following last week’s debate on Equitable Life, I thought now would prove an ideal time to provide you with a brief update since my last website piece on 8 December.
As you may be aware, I wrote to the Chancellor at the end of last year calling for the Treasury to revise the Ombudsman’s recommendations, ensuring proper compensation is given to the victims of Equitable Life (letter attached below). I have been clear that, whilst we are not out of the woods yet, through this Government’s action our economy is back on track and the time has come to reassess whether we are able to bridge some of the gap between the £1.5 billion currently available and the estimated £4 billion which was lost by scheme holders in total.
Last month I received a response from Andrea Leadsom, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister responsible for Equitable Life, which, to be frank, I found extremely disappointing. In the letter – a copy of which I have attached at the bottom of this page - the Treasury maintains that, given the ongoing constraints on public finances, it would be premature to alter the design of the scheme, or the payments on offer, at the current time. Let me be clear that this is not a view I share.
It is sometimes easy to forget the real impact failures in regulation like this can have on honest, hardworking people, and I was keen to use Thursday’s debate as an opportunity to highlight the difficult reality a number of my constituents now face as a direct result of the Equitable Life scandal. Equally, I fear anything that falls short of proper compensation will only act as a disincentive to all those who are looking to invest sensibly and save wisely. I believe we must send a strong message to people that they can invest in confidence, knowing that they will receive swift and full remuneration should a problem occur through no fault of their own down the line.
I remain absolutely committed to EMAG’s pledge, and will continue to campaign on behalf of the residents of Bromley and Chislehurst to see full and proper compensation as soon as possible. You can read my speech by following the link below, and I will, of course, post any updates on my website as and when I can.