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Financial Assistance Scheme

The Minister for Pensions Reform (Mr. Stephen Timms): The general notification period for the Financial Assistance Scheme ends on the 28 February. The notification period began on 1 September and is the period during which the scheme manager must be supplied with some basic details of potentially eligible pension schemes in order for them to be considered for qualification. The scheme manager may, at his discretion, accept notification of those details for any particular scheme after the 28 February.

Although FAS offers help to those pension schemes which began winding-up between 1 January 1997 and 5 April 2005 where the principal employer became insolvent on or before 28 February, extending the
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notification period for any particular scheme also extends the period in which an insolvency event can occur. This means it may be possible for some pension schemes which would not otherwise qualify for FAS or for compensation offered under the Pension Protection Fund to become qualifying schemes for FAS. I wish to make it clear that we may be able to extend help to some individual pension scheme members who have lost part or all of their occupational pensions but who may not have appeared eligible for help from either FAS or the PPF.

The Government will set a definitive cut-off date for insolvency events before the end of the calendar year. Until then the scheme manager will consider requests for an extension to the notification period from those pension schemes that undergo a qualifying insolvency event after the 28 February.