BHS pension liability could be £275m

BHS Pension

As you know, BHS is in a sorry state at the moment, and if you have any vouchers with the ailing retailer, you really need to spend them right now.

There's been issues surrounding the pensions at the company, and the chief executive of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has told the MPs who are investigating the situation, that they're looking at an estimated £275m liability from BHS's £571m pension black hole.

The committees learned that a recovery plan for the BHS pension scheme had been offered which looked to correct the deficit within 12 to 23 years, however, it had not been signed off by March 2015, which is the time the regulator learned of the BHS sale.

They learned about the whole thing "through the newspapers", which isn't a good sign.

Pensions Regulator chief executive Lesley Titcomb informed MPs that it launched an immediate anti-avoidance investigation, which is going to include a probe into "whether any of the parties connected to this had walked away from their responsibilities".

Richard Fuller MP replied: "You took 17 months to receive a plan. That plan had a 23-year recovery period, which sounds like it is twice the average, and your response was to 'Open a recovery plan case'."

"The fund had a £200m deficit and growing, but you did not think it required 'proactive response'."

"And when you go after someone who has a fund which doesn't have enough money in it, your first question is 'How much can you afford?' You are not much of a regulator, are you?"

Titcomb volleyed back: "I don't agree with that statement. We have to, as a regulator, operate within the framework provided to us."

MPs are set to hear from the directors of Retail Acquisitions (who bought BHS for £1), Sir Philip Green, and pension trustees in the next couple of weeks.

One thing is clear - the whole thing is an absolute mess.

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