6 Sep 2010 : Column 1P


Monday 6 September 2010



Taxibus Services (Plymouth)

The Petition of residents of the Plymouth, Moor View constituency and others,

Declares that the petitioners are unhappy with the decision to withdraw the taxibus service that serves the residents in the north of Plymouth; notes that residents in St Budeaux and Weston Mill use this bus to access their GP surgery, dentist, shops and other community facilities; and further declares that the withdrawal of this service will cause major inconvenience to residents.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage local authorities to support local taxibus services to avoid these vital public transport services being removed.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Alison Seabeck , Official Report, 26 July 2010; Vol. 514, c. 834 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 16 August 2010:

The Government are aware of the important role that bus services play for those who have no access to a car, particularly in less accessible urban and rural areas The majority of bus services outside London-some 80%-are provided on a commercial basis by private operators and decisions on the extent and frequency of services and the type of vehicle used are mainly a matter for the commercial judgment of the operator concerned. Local authorities do have powers to subsidise bus services where these are not being provided commercially. It is essentially a matter for individual authorities to decide which services are most appropriate for support in their respective areas. I understand that Plymouth Council is aware of the concerns raised by residents over the withdrawal of these services.

In recognition of the particular needs of rural communities, specific funding has been provided to improve public transport in rural areas previously not well served. Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG) was introduced in 1998-99 for the provision of new or enhanced local bus services in England, this is allocated to local authorities on a population based formula. It is then for each authority to decide which services and communities to support. The total funding available for the financial year 2010-11 is £60 million which is now paid to local authorities as part of their area-based funding. The allocation to Plymouth City Council is £17,642. It is a matter for the authority how to make use of that funding.

6 Sep 2010 : Column 2P

Work and Pensions

Financial Assistance Scheme

The Petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,

Declares that pensioners who have lost all or a greater part of the pension due to failed occupational pension schemes have not been properly compensated by the Government under the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) due to the failure of pensions regulation, as proven by the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the High Court; that at the very least the Government must provide 90% compensation, which is not eroded by regulations and current FAS failings; that indexation should fully reflect that provided by original schemes; that backdating should be to scheme Normal Retirement Age and not an arbitrary May 2004 cut-off date; that a higher tax-free cash limit should be provided, irrespective of scheme asset share, to be paid on request; that access on early retirement is made irrespective of ill health (with an actuarial adjustment); that recognises the pre-retirement scheme revaluation basis; that has the provision of meaningful benefit projections; that recognises the harmful effects of the earnings cap on long-serving members.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure those pensioners are properly compensated 90% or more of the true value of their pension through immediate amendment of the Financial Assistance Scheme.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Mr William Cash , Official Report, Tuesday 23 March 2010; Vol. 508, c. 217 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, received 9 August 2010:

The Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) provides publicly funded support to those who have saved for their retirement throughout their employment and who have lost their pension as a result of the considerable level of under-funding of their pension scheme and the failure of their employer. The FAS delivers assistance to those whose defined benefit pension schemes began to wind up under-funded, between 1 January 1997 and, in general, 5 April 2005.

The FAS delivers assistance to members of over 900 different pension schemes and, as such, does not replicate each scheme's individual rules.

FAS Assistance is paid at a level of 90% of members' expected pension, that is, the pension accrued to the date their scheme began to wind up, including revaluation at a standard FAS rate up to normal retirement age. The structure of assistance takes account of existing statutory requirements, for example, the date of the introduction of a statutory requirement to provide indexation and the providing of cash lump sums broadly aligning with tax rules.

For those whose scheme asset share is greater than 90% and whose assets transfer to Government, the FAS assistance calculation will ensure that members receive the value of their share of their scheme's assets.

FAS assistance balances the need to provide a relevant safety net to pension scheme members with the cost to taxpayers, many of whom do not have occupational pensions.

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