Thousands of British fishermen have lost their pensions after an administrative blunder of epic proportions meant that the trustees no longer have their names or addresses.
The pension schemes in question ran for 20 years from the early 1960s and a campaign to find the missing fisherman is about to end, despite not finding over half of the 12,000 fishermen in question.
Hull MP Alan Johnson has described the episode as a “scandal” and has vowed to call in the pensions regulator unless they sort it out.
The remaining schemes are now being wound up, with the money shared between members of the scheme who have been found. Each member is likely to receive a one off payment of around £600 as a result.
The scheme, which saw fishermen from Aberdeen, Hull, Fleetwood and Grimsby pay one penny a week, was one of the worst run pension schemes in history, with administrators never updating addresses, not recording details correctly or taking national insurance numbers.
The scheme has now fallen into the hands of Aviva, whose management is overseen by the Capital Cranfield Trustees although both companies claim to have inherited the pension scheme in such a shocking state.
Both companies claim to have spent £500,000 of their own money on tracing services, and Aviva gave £2.5million in 2007 to fishermen as pat of their campaign to clean up the problem.
“The fact that they only took their surnames and their initials – not even their full Christian names – no NI number, no addresses, no telephone numbers. There’s no excuse at all for such awful maladministration,” said Alan Johnson.
A former trawlerman from Hull, Ron Batemen has spent the last 40 years campaigning to get fishermen compensation after their industry collapsed.
He was equally damning of the scheme, adding, “I just can’t put words to it. I think school children could run a better piggy bank scheme. It’s gone from company to company and no one’s bothered whether the records were kept properly.”