The BP Pensioner Group has described the decision by BP’s new interim CEO, Murray Auchincloss to offer a ‘one-off’ charity handout of £2,500 to some pensioners as completely inadequate and evidence of a tone-deaf leadership at the Company.

In April, BP’s former CEO Bernard Looney rejected the BP Pension Fund trustees recommended ‘cost of living’ increase to the pension – a recommendation endorsed by the Fund’s independent actuary. During a period of two years, BP has blocked the Pension Fund Trustees from following a long-established policy of increasing pensions fully in line with the cost of living. BP’s actions, at a time of exceptional inflation, have meant the pension paid has fallen in value by 11% in real terms.

BP Pensioners Group spokesman Mike Slingsby, speaking on behalf of 2,400 BP pensioners, said: “While we welcome help to any pensioner in hardship, resorting to a one-off charity handout shows a failure to grasp the seriousness of this wholly unnecessary dispute. A charity offer is completely inadequate, and the Company leadership appears to be tone deaf – despite claiming it is listening to its pensioners.

“The average BP pension is £18,000 per year. The permanent loss in its value as a result of the decision of the former CEO, Bernard Looney, is approaching £2,000 for every year of that pensioner’s retirement. This adds up to tens of thousands of pounds of lost value over the remaining years of that older person’s life. A one-off charity hand-out – representing little more than one year of an average pensioner’s loss – does not put right the decisions made by the former CEO.”

BP has enjoyed record windfall profits and even described the company as a “cash machine”. In the past two years it has awarded spectacular windfall increases in remuneration and cash payments in lieu of pension to executive leaders such as Mr Looney and Mr Auchincloss.

The BP Pensioner Group has recently appointed Counsel and solicitors to press a legal case.

Notes to Editors

  • BP has re-branded its BP Benevolent Fund charity as the ‘Helios Fund’.
  • A one-off means-tested charitable payment of £2,500 – open for just 4 months – requires pensioners to submit bank statements, tax returns and other documents for themselves and their spouse to enable BP to assess they meet income criteria.
  • Mr Auchincloss, as BP’s Chief Financial officer, saw his total remuneration increase by 752% over the past two years to reach £5.2 million. He received a cash allowance in lieu of pension of £227,000. The BP Pension Fund has c. 60,000 members, of whom 16,000 are over the age of 80. The average pension paid is £18,000.
  • The Fund has a record surplus of some £5 billion.
  • For some 30 years, BP and the Trustees have given written and verbal assurances that their policy is to “increase pensions fully in line with cost-of-living increases wherever possible and provided the Fund has sufficient resources.” Thousands of BP employees invested their own money into the Fund with that assurance.
  • The BP Pension Fund trustee recently admitted that it was in talks with insurance companies inviting them to ‘buy-in’ to the Fund. Buy-In arrangements are invariably the first step leading to a complete sell off of pension funds to insurance companies.
  • The BP Pensioner Group has appointed Andrew Spink – a highly respected KC specialising in pensions, banking and financial services and law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP – who have a proven track record in successfully acting for representatives of groups of pension scheme members.

Issued on behalf of the members of the BP Pensioner Group