Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“Now that, thankfully, Arcadia’s life has been extended, the Committee will try to ensure that the Pensions Regulator gets an effective programme in place to ensure that Arcadia staff receive in full the pensions that Sir Philip and Lady Green have promised them.”
Following last Wednesday’s adjournment of the first creditor meeting, the Committee wrote to TPR asking it to use the time to further reflect on the CVA proposals, and warning again of the need to ensure a funding package for Arcadia’s pension scheme independent of the future of the Group, after the experience at BHS.
In light of TPR’s reply last night (attached) and the uncertainty that persists despite this positive result, the Committee has now asked TPR more detailed questions about the ownership of the cash and assets put up by the Greens as part of the deal, and other potential claims on them. The Committee has copied Lady Green and the chair of Arcadia’s pension trustees “in the hope that they will volunteer this information if TPR feels it is constrained by legislation from doing so.”
The new questions put by the Committee today include whether the assets forming the £210 million security package are being offered by Arcadia, Lady Green or some other third party; if there could be other claims by creditors on these assets, for example, in light of reports that a mortgaged London property forms a significant part of this package; and whether the assets are held within the UK.
It also asks how TPR reached its “view that this arrangement is ‘the right one for members and the PPF’” when it also asserted in its response that “in any situation, upfront cash is preferable to security over assets”.
The Committee is currently considering appointing a specialist legal adviser to advise it on this matter, including on the powers of TPR to extract overseas funds from the jurisdictions relevant to Arcadia Group Ltd and the Arcadia pension schemes, should this become necessary in future.
Committee Chair Frank Field has previously asked Sir Philip for a binding assurance that the Greens will personally fund the Arcadia pension scheme deficit, and closes with the question of whether it “might it be helpful for TPR—and give confidence to the scheme trustees—were Lady Green to give a guarantee on the parliamentary record that these powers will not be needed, and that full funding for the pension schemes will be forthcoming?”
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