BP Pensioner Group

The BP Pensioner Information Session

BP Pensioner Information Session

BP Defined Benefit pension scheme members are receiving letters from bp entitled ‘Invitation to attend an information session with BP.’ The letter provides only the barest of details, and it includes a document restating BP’s position on pension increases which was first posted on bp.com in November 2023.

Nine months ago the BP Pensioner Group invited BP’s leadership to talk with us. We’re still waiting. So we have low expectations that a one-way, tightly controlled online ‘session’ is going to serve much purpose other than to allow BP to give the appearance that they have ‘engaged’ with pensioners about their concerns.

Regrettably, BP’s leaders have instead sought to cast the members of BP Pensioner Group as some ill-behaved minority of pension fund members in order to deflect from the very serious questions they need to answer. The Information Session should be their opportunity to show real leadership and use it to begin the process of resolving this wholly unnecessary dispute. That is the test that we will apply to this latest initiative.

The Questions BP Needs To Answer

BP may receive a considerable number of questions in advance of the Information Session. Typically, they will boil these down to a small number of ‘issues’ and create ‘composite’ questions or select a single question that they consider best represents the particular issue. The “best” will likely suit the particular answer they wish to give.

The BP Pensioner Group Steering Group has identified Eight Top Questions (see below) that the pension campaign wishes to prioritise for BP to answer during the Information Session.  We request that anyone who has received an inviation to the BP Pensioner Information Session sends these eight questions to BP using the details they received with their invitation to the Information Session. It doesn’t matter if you have already sent or plan to send some questions of your own; nothing is preventing you from sending more than one set of questions. You can let us know that you have sent the eight questions to BP by emailing contact@bppensionergroup.org, putting ‘SENT’ in the Subject Line of your email.

Should BP elect to ignore or fail to answer these detailed key questions, then a proper judgement of the session and the leadership’s good faith can be made.

The Eight Top Questions

Q1. bp is enjoying record profits and is rewarding shareholders, executives and employees accordingly. The UK Pension Fund is in record surplus. At the same time, bp’s pensioners are dealing with the highest increase in the cost of living since the 1970s. If these circumstances do not qualify for the approval by bp of an additional discretionary increase to pensions to offset the exceptional increases in the cost of living – then please describe in detail the circumstances that do.

Q2. Solicitors (specialising in pensions law) – acting for members of the BP Pensioner Group – wrote to bp more than 2 months ago, advising that decisions made by bp to refuse a 4% discretionary increase, breached the duty it owed to its pensioners under the Pension Fund Trust Deed. They also stated that the justifications bp has given for those decisions are “woefully inadequate” in law. As this matter is not yet sub judice – do you agree with them and, if not, why do you think they are wrong, and when do you expect to answer their letter and the important legal questions it raises?

Q3. I understand that a former senior BP employee with great experience of pensions matters and with particular knowledge, has told you in writing that bp has made a serious error and the policy of “increasing pensions fully in line with the cost of living wherever possible, and provided the Scheme has sufficient resources” is neither “historic”, nor a “broad ambition” and nor was it withdrawn in 2007 as claimed by bp in the document issued with the invitation to this information session. How is this senior former employee wrong? What documentary evidence do you have to refute his claim that you have erred?

Q4. Given the long-term importance to 58,000 BP pensioners of the existence and continuation of the policy of “increasing pensions fully in line with the cost of living wherever possible, and provided the Scheme has sufficient resources”, will bp agree to test this matter via a court ruling – and if not, why not – given this is the conventional route taken by many other companies and pension fund trustees – to clarify the important questions that are in serious dispute relating to BP’s UK pension fund?

Q5. A large number of UK BP pensioners have joined the BP Pensioner Group and many have contacted their MP’s because of BP’s refusal to engage. MPs have debated the matter at Westminster and the Pensions Minister is concerned enough to be taking the matter up with The Pensions Regulator. Are the Minister and MPs wrong to be concerned and how will bp respond to them?

Q6. You say that you rejected the recommendation of the Trustee to award a 4% discretionary increase to pensioners because it would benefit one group of “stakeholders” disproportionately, not be “fair to bp UK employees” or “retirees in other countries” and therefore “not be appropriate for a global company”. How is this consistent with the Company’s long-established practice as set out in bp’s Annual Report 2022 p.118: “We operate different pension plans by location and for those parts of our business where market practice is markedly different” and we “set pay budgets… relative to market rates” and “we operate different bonus plans for those parts of our business where market practice is markedly different?”

Q.7 bp claims to be a champion of diversity and inclusion. Since abolishing the Pensions Councils and closing the DB scheme to new members, how has bp taken into consideration the perspective of its UK DB pensioners in its decision-making regarding their pensions to ensure it has complied in full with bp values and Code of Conduct? Why does bp not amend its Code of Conduct to include its pensioners as one of the named stakeholders? Why would you not work with the BP Pensioner Group as the basis for a new pensioner representative body?

Q.8 Alistair Carmichael MP – who represents BP pensioners living in Shetland – criticised BP in Parliament and said: “ Pensions are not charitable hand-outs; this is money that people have earned in the course of their working life. BP seeks every step of the way to play one group off against the other.” In what way is he wrong and does BP think that offering a one-off, means-tested charity handout (the BP Helios Fund Cost of Living Assistance Grant) of £2,500 to some pensioners absolves them of their legal commitments to 58,000 pensioners?


You can also download a PDF version of the questions to send to BP – click here.