Belfast Telegraph

Pension Protection Fund steps in to shield H&W scheme from £85m debt


InfraStrata moved in to rescue the ship yard after its previous owner got into financial difficulty.
InfraStrata moved in to rescue the ship yard after its previous owner got into financial difficulty.
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A deficit of £85m in the pension scheme of shipyard Harland & Wolff in east Belfast is now being monitored by a public body which will make payments to staff.

H&W was sold to Infrastrata plc after it went into administration, rescuing the 79 jobs.

The administration process wiped out liability for the pension fund of the company, which is to provide for the livelihood of former workers.

However, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) now has assumed responsibility for the scheme.

The latest report from the administrators of Harland & Wolff Group plc said there was a liability of £85m in the fund, making it the company's biggest creditor. The fund has 2,633 pensioner and deferred members.

At its peak in the Second World War, H&W had around 35,000 staff.

The PPF said it had initiated the transfer of the scheme and that members could be assured of the fund's protection.

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It added it expected it will take between 18 and 24 months to assess the scheme.

A spokeswoman said: "The PPF exists to protect members of UK defined-benefit pensions when their employer fails and their scheme is unable to pay them what they were promised.

"If we didn't exist, members who had built up their valuable pension benefits would simply receive a share of what was left in their scheme when their company failed and in most cases would be substantially less than what the PPF provides.

"The PPF currently protects more than 250,000 people whose employers have failed and members of the H&W scheme can be reassured of our protection."

A total of £88.5m was owed by Harland & Wolff Group plc, with H&W's former parent company Dolphin Drilling ASA in Norway the only other creditor.

H&W was first put up for sale by its parent company last year.

(Front left to right) Harland and Wolff worker Joe Passmore and Denise Walker of GMB union, along with fellow worker Barry Reid (rear left) speak to workers and supporters: Tuesday October 1, 2019.
(Front left to right) Harland and Wolff worker Joe Passmore and Denise Walker of GMB union, along with fellow worker Barry Reid (rear left) speak to workers and supporters: Tuesday October 1, 2019.
(Left to right) Harland and Wolff worker Barry Reid, GMB representative Denise Walker, Harland and Wolff worker Joe Passmore, and Unite representative Susan Fitzgerald celebrate following the announcement that the Belfast shipyard has been saved: Tuesday October 1, 2019.
Harland and Wolff workers holds t-shirts from the GMB union following the announcement that the Belfast shipyard has been saved after it was bought for £6 million by InfraStrata, a company that works on energy infrastructure projects. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 1, 2019.
Harland and Wolff worker Joe Passmore writes his thanks to those who supported the shipyard workers as workers and supporters celebrate following the announcement that the Belfast shipyard has been saved: Tuesday October 1, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Shipyard. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Harland and Wolff workers Barry Reid (left) and Joe Passmore celebrate following the announcement that the Belfast shipyard has been saved after it was bought for £6 million by InfraStrata, a company that works on energy infrastructure projects. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 1, 2019.
Workers celebrate today at Harland and Wolff after the company was sold to energy firm InfraStrata, saving it from closure.
PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 1/10/2019 Workers celebrate today at Harland and Wolff after the company was sold to energy firm InfraStrata, saving it from closure. Harland and Wolff went into administration in August but was today bought for £6 million. 79 jobs will be retained and the company hopes to employ more workers in the next 5 years. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 1/10/2019 Workers celebrate today at Harland and Wolff after the company was sold to energy firm InfraStrata, saving it from closure. Harland and Wolff went into administration in August but was today bought for £6 million. 79 jobs will be retained and the company hopes to employ more workers in the next 5 years. Pictured are the main organisers of the 9 week occupation: Susan Fitzgerald, Joe Passmore, Barry Reid, Paul Beattie and Denise Walker. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 1/10/2019 Workers celebrate today at Harland and Wolff after the company was sold to energy firm InfraStrata, saving it from closure. Harland and Wolff went into administration in August but was today bought for £6 million. 79 jobs will be retained and the company hopes to employ more workers in the next 5 years. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 1/10/2019 Workers celebrate today at Harland and Wolff after the company was sold to energy firm InfraStrata, saving it from closure. Harland and Wolff went into administration in August but was today bought for £6 million. 79 jobs will be retained and the company hopes to employ more workers in the next 5 years. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Harland and Wolff shipyard has been saved from closure after being bought for £6m by a London-based energy company.
Harland and Wolff shipyard has been saved from closure after being bought for £6m by a London-based energy company.
Harland and Wolff shipyard has been saved from closure after being bought for £6m by a London-based energy company.
Harland and Wolff shipyard has been saved from closure after being bought for £6m by a London-based energy company.
Harland and Wolff shipyard has been saved from closure after being bought for £6m by a London-based energy company.

Newry firm MJM Group was lined up by advisers BDO as a potential buyer. However, the talks over a purchase deal ultimately fell through.

When its parent company went bankrupt, H&W no longer had a source of financing, which eventually led to it entering administration.

Further offers emerged following the administration, eventually leading to the successful offer from InfraStrata plc to take over the business.

Denise Walker, senior organiser at trade union GMB, which represents many of the H&W workers, said: "The pension liability transferred to the PPF when the company went into administration in August."

"The pension scheme had closed prior to the closure (of the company) and all existing and future pensioners will receive pensions according to the rules of the PPF and the legislation surrounding the fund."

Other schemes which have entered the PPF include MG Rover, Readers Digest and Woolworths Group Pension Scheme.

Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Harland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. Credit: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Harland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. Credit: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 30-07-2019: Workers continue their protest at the entrance to Halrland and Wolff in Belfast where they say they plan to stay until the shipyard is privatised. A rally took place today at lunch time. The UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue". Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

One of the biggest names to enter the PPF was the Kodak Pension Plan number 2, with a £1.5bn deficit.

Members of the scheme who are over the pension age, or who receive a spouse's, dependant's or ill-health pension, get 100%.

If a member is an early retiree or below the normal pension age of the scheme, they will receive 90% of what they were promised.

However, that amount is capped at £36,018 per year - a level set by the Department of Work and Pensions. Everyone in the scheme receives at least 50% of their old-age pensions.

Belfast Telegraph

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