31st October 2015
EQUITABLE LIFE PAYMENT SCHEME
I know that the progress of the Equitable Life Payment Scheme (“the Scheme”) is of interest to colleagues, so I am writing to you today to update you.
As at 30 September 2015, the Equitable Life Payment Scheme has now issued payments of nearly £1.08 billion to 915,453 policyholders. This means the Scheme has now paid 88% of eligible policyholders, and 92.9% of the money due. The Scheme has published a further progress report, which can be found at www.gov.uk/equitable-life-payment-scheme.
The Scheme has made major efforts have to trace policyholders, including extensive electronic tracing methods, writing to policyholders’ last known addresses, a national advertising campaign, working with other government departments and liaising with group scheme trustees. As announced at the Summer Budget, a final attempt to trace policyholders has been made through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by the DWP sending letters to all untraced policyholders due £50 or more for whom the Scheme holds a National Insurance number and other data such as their name. These letters have now been sent. Despite this there remain approximately 125,000 policyholders whom the Scheme has been unable to pay.
As the Chancellor announced in the Summer Budget on 8 July, the Scheme will be closing to new claims on 31 December 2015. Any policyholders who still believe themselves to be eligible are encouraged to call the Scheme on 0300 0200 150 before 31st December 2015. The Scheme can verify the identity of most policyholders on the telephone, which means any payment due can usually be received within 2 weeks. This will not affect the yearly payments made by the Scheme to With-Profits Annuitants, which will continue for the duration of those annuities. The Scheme has written to all With-Profits Annuitants to make them aware of this.
In the Summer Budget, the Chancellor also announced that payments to non-With Profit Annuitant policyholders who receive Pension Credit will be doubled. Any policyholders who have made a claim from the Scheme by the time it closes on 31 December and are receiving Pension Credit on that date will receive this second payment without having to take any action. Policyholders can check their eligibility for Pension Credit using the Government’s Pension Credit calculator at http://www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator.
I hope this information is of use to you and your constituents.