Richard Ault; The Sentinal, Stoke-on-Trent; Monday November 4, 2019
Ex-miners ‘duped’ into pension transfers
Former miners could be in line for thousands of pounds in compensation after being exploited by ‘leeches’ who convinced them to transfer cash from their pensions into less valuable schemes.
Corries Solicitors says many North Staffordshire colliery workers were duped into leaving occupational pension schemes and transferring to private plans, which paid out far less.
Among the cases the firm has already dealt with are:
A former Wolstanton Colliery miner who has received more than £111,391 in compensation. He was convinced by an insurance company to transfer £11,542 from his miners’ pension in 1990;
An ex-miner from Knutton, who worked at Silverdale Pit. He has received £43,921 compensation, even though the financial advisers who persuaded him to transfer his pension had worked for a company which has since gone out of business.
Dave Lamb, who manages the pensions team for Corries Solicitors, said: “If we look nationwide, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people. I would say there were a couple of thousand at least in North Staffordshire.
“We have had a lot of calls already. We’ve had about 500 from North Staffordshire, but not all of those will lead to compensation.
“It goes back to the deregulation of the pension market in the 1980s, in particular from 1988 onwards, when many people were persuaded to transfer out of occupational pensions into private schemes. We have the background of the miners’ strike and the pit closures, which meant there was a lot of distrust, so miners were easy prey for financial advisers and insurance company reps. They were persuaded to transfer funds out of miners’ pensions into private ones.
“The sort of thing we find is that miners may have already had life insurance with a private company. A field rep would call round about that and then ask about pensions.
“There was a lot of cold-calling going on as well. Geographically, a lot of mines were created around colliery villages, so it was easy to find miners.
“We’ve also heard of sales reps getting into staff canteens and into meetings, sitting at tables talking about pensions.
“But the occupational pensions people were giving up had fantastic employer contributions, bonuses and benefits that were way above anything people could expect from a private pension.
“Over the years, people could have missed out on tens of thousands of pounds. In some instances, it is well over £100,000.”
Mr Lamb said compensation is based on what a miners’ pension scheme would be worth today, compared to the private scheme.
Mick Salih, who was a union representative for The National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (NACODS), believes many of his former colleagues could be entitled to compensation.
He worked as a deputy at Wolstanton Colliery until 1986, then at Florence until 1993.
Seventy-one-year-old Mick, from Norton, said: “I always advised our members not to transfer out of the company pension. It was the time of Thatcherism, grab every buck you can, and those people were like leeches on the backs of hard-working people. There were that many of them around in those days and it was unbelievable how people fell for it.”
Any ex-miner or other workers who think they might be entitled to compensation, can call Corries Solicitors on 0800 988 7997.