Equitable Life was one of the most trusted pension providers until it collapsed in 2000, leaving one million policyholders out of pocket. In 2008 a four-year investigation by the Parliamentary Ombudsman found regulators guilty of a decade of maladministration and called on the government to compensate the victims. In 2010 the Coalition Government accepted that policyholders had lost £4.3billion but offered compensation of only £1.5billion. Despite governments always providing 100% compensation to customers of bailed-out banks, Equitable’s victims are getting less than a quarter of what they are owed.
The Mail on Sunday’s personal finance editor says: “Equitable savers are being treated like second-class citizens” and this is “a monumental financial injustice”. The victims feel abandoned by a political class that has failed to deliver its promise of fair compensation. One policyholder says bluntly: “I don’t want to claim benefits. I’m a proud person, I’ve paid for my pension and they should give it to me.”
945,000 people and their families affected by this scandal have received only 22% of what is their due. Governments have dithered and delayed for too long. It is time for the Treasury to behave honourably and settle its debt to Equitable Life’s victims.