Cautious welcome for BHS pension payout deal

Lin Macmillan
Lin Macmillan outside the Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh.

A Church official who launched a David versus Goliath style UK-wide campaign to try and fill a black hole in a failed retailer’s pensions fund has cautiously welcomed a settlement.

Lin Macmillan described the £363 million British Home Stores package pledged by former owner Sir Philip Green as “not as bad as it could have been”.

The controversial business man agreed to hand over the money in a deal with the Pensions Regulator following the collapse of the department store chain last year.

It led to the loss of 11,000 jobs and left a pension deficit assessed at £571 million.

A House of Commons investigation concluded that the company had been systematically plundered by its owners and described the hole in the pension fund as “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.

Ms Macmillan, Secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Housing and Loan Fund, created an online petition titled "Sell the Yachts and Pay the Pensions" to increase the pressure on Sir Philip Green who sold BHS for a pound.

High profile

Commenting on the deal, she said: “It is not as bad as it could have been, but it’s not as good as it should have been.

“BHS pensioners will receive a better deal than they would have done through the Pension Protection Fund, but it will still be less than many would have hoped.”

Ms Macmillan worked for BHS for over 10 years in the 1980s and the name of her campaign was a reference to the fact Sir Philip Green and his family own three luxury yachts.

“I have never been involved in such a high profile campaign with so much UK-wide media attention before”, said the Edinburgh-based church official who has a small BHS pension.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported the campaign over the last 10 months, particularly friends and colleagues in the Church of Scotland.

“The fact that so many people signed the petition, sent me messages of encouragement and generally assisted me in lots of diverse ways has shown that it is possible for ordinary people to make a difference, even against a Goliath-type figure.”

Stained

MPs voted in favour of stripping Sir Philip Green of his knighthood in wake of the scandal.

Business committee chairman Iain Wright said today that that the payment does not necessarily safeguard his gong.

He said Sir Philip Green’s reputation was still stained.