Sir Philip Green must cover Arcadia pension shortfall, says Ed Miliband

2 December 2020, 15:48

Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group went into administration this week
Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group went into administration this week. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Sir Philip Green must cover the shortfall in Arcadia’s pension scheme so employees do not pay the price for his “greed”, Ed Miliband has said.

The shadow business secretary told MPs the retail mogul has "a moral duty" towards workers, particularly after his family took the "largest dividend in history" from the company in 2005.

Sir Philip's Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, collapsed into administration earlier this week placing 13,000 jobs at risk.

Business minister Paul Scully insisted those already in receipt of their pension will continue to be paid while other members will receive "at least Pension Protection Fund compensation levels".

READ MORE: Who is Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green? A look at his net worth and business career

Raising the matter in an urgent question in the Commons, Labour’s Mr Miliband said: "Philip Green owes the workers at Arcadia a moral duty. His family took a dividend worth £1.2 billion from the company, the largest in UK history, more than three times the size of the pensions deficit.

"The workers at Arcadia should not pay the price of Philip Green's greed. So will the minister now publicly call for him to make good any shortfall in the pensions scheme and will he ensure that the Pensions Regulator takes all possible steps to make sure this happens?"

Responding for the Government, Mr Scully said: "The independent Pensions Regulator has a range of powers to protect pensions schemes and it does work closely with those involved.

"The schemes where the employer goes insolvent, the Pension Protection Fund is there to protect the members. Anybody already in receipt of their pensions will continue to be paid and other members will receive at least Pension Protection Fund compensation levels."

SNP business spokesman Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) said it was "indeed a sad day for our embattled high streets".

He said: "(Workers) must be given all the help they can get to have all of their pension rights retained, so firstly will the minister confirm that his Government will ensure that Sir Philip Green's obligation to pensions are met and will his department work with trade unions to ensure that these workers are treated fairly and are adequately supported through the process?"

Mr Scully said: "Yes, indeed existing pension commitments made to the Pensions Regulator are still commitments that need to be kept and that's important to say."

Conservative MP Laura Farris (Newbury) told MPs: "Not many of my constituents will shed a tear for Philip Green but we should be profoundly concerned about the 25,000 jobs at risk of redundancy."