Restructured scheme to be challenged by pensioners’ group

Beneficiaries of Halcrow’s pension scheme advised by the man who acted for Mirror Group pensioners in the Maxwell pension scandal are set to sue parent company CH2M, after it confirmed plans to slash Halcrow pensioners’ benefits.

Halcrow, owned by CH2M, wrote to pensioners two weeks ago outlining a new scheme, giving them a 2.5% boost to their savings but cutting their annual increases from the current level of 5% to CPI-indexed inflation, which currently stands at 0.3%.

If pensioners reject the offer or do not reply by 5 August, their pensions will be moved to the Pension Protection Fund, where retirement age pensioners would receive full payments but no increases, while those not of retirement age would take a 10% cut.

In response to the offer, the Halcrow Pensioners Association (HPA) wrote to CH2M’s European human resources director Sam Hannis to argue the deadline left them “far too little time” to make a “life-changing decision”.

Speaking to Building, the HPA’s Edward Evans said the group – advised by Maxwell lawyer Martin Jenkins – is “getting our act together” to take legal action against CH2M.

Commenting on the pension offer, he claimed: “It’s just kicking the can down the road so in five years CH2M are going to say ‘no we can’t afford it now, it will have to go into the PPF.’”

Evans also called on the Pensions Regulator to intervene and review the case.

In response, a spokesperson for the Pensions Regulator said: “We understand the concerns of the Halcrow Pensioners Association and have received a letter from them, to which we will reply shortly.”

A CH2M spokesperson said: “Halcrow and the Halcrow Pension Scheme Trustees have worked closely together to agree a sustainable solution that will protect members benefits and enable Halcrow to secure a stable financial position.”