Graham Wrightson explains the recent Pilkington Tiles Pensions Scheme Ombudsman case in language even a school child could understand

Had a bad day at school today…

Got sent to the Deputy Head’s office (aka the Deputy Pensions Ombudsman) because the new kids in town, da Bridge Trustees Gang, basically said we’d not been running the Pilkington’s Tiles Pension Scheme properly.

Headmaster

Source: Flickr

BTG are right snitches!  They’ve only gone and said that a couple of us had gone behind the backs of the other trustees and authorised the return of nearly a couple of hundred grand from the scheme to the Company. 

Then they had the cheek to say that we’d been flaunting the scheme Rule Book and weren’t looking out for the da members, innit.  And, to top it off, BTG told the Head that we’d, like, committed a breach of trust and shouldn’t be protected by the Rule Book’s indemnity provisions!

Don’t know where they got all that from…

We thought we could refund the excess employer contributions held in the general reserve to the Company (and we’re sure that’s what our administrators said, bruv). 

Just because the Company needed a loan of £205,000 from us to pay the PPF levy didn’t mean it was, like, going down the pan (guess forgetting to mention the loan to the other scheme trustees was probably a bit stupid though).  Didn’t help that the Company then went into administration either… and that’s when BTG stuck their noses in.

So the Dep Head’s read us the riot act…

She told us it was down to her to decide what the scheme Rule Book did or didn’t say and that we should have paid more attention to it and listened in class properly.  If we had, we might have realised that the general reserve couldn’t be paid back to the Company.  Doing it behind the backs of the other trustees wasn’t a smart move either. 

Think she thinks she’s my mum too! She told us that, once in a while, we should take some (legal or tax) advice, particularly on technical issues or points where we have no experience. And to top it off, she said we’d behaved well badly in not looking out for the best interests of da members – we’d not shown “undivided loyalty to them” (still dunno what that means but nodded anyway).   

She said we could take the Company into account but still needed to behave reasonably and prudently.  Can’t see why all that bovvered her – where’s the problem in advancing a loan from an underfunded scheme following a refund of excess contributions without telling anyone?

Anyway, she came down proper hard on us.  Said we were, like, guilty of “conscious wrongdoing” – or something like that - and had had “deliberate disregard of the interests” of da members.  The Rule Book couldn’t protect us. 

So now we’ve got to pay back the total excess contributions repaid to the Company and the tax charges!  And those costs are well steep!  Might just have to see if I can appeal to the Head’s good nature…

Graham Wrightson is a partner at Stephenson Harwood