Visit London administration causes pensions row

Thursday April 21st, 2011

The GLA has refused to take on a £2.1m deficit in staff pensions, prompting an investigation by the regulator and accusations it cherry-picked assets

The surprise announcement that Visit London (VL) has gone into administration has sparked anger and confusion at City Hall amid accusations that the Greater London Authority (GLA) reneged on a deal that now threatens the pensions of 140 past and present staff.

VL, Think London and Study London were due to merge into London & Partners (L&P), mayor Boris Johnson’s new single promotional agency for London, which was due to take on Visit London’s 39 staff. But in a last minute move, the GLA, which funds the new body, refused to take on the £2.1m deficit in VL’s staff pensions, triggering its administration on 1 April.

The decision has prompted an investigation by the pensions regulator and letters from the London Assembly’s economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee, in a bid to find out what went wrong and why.

Len Duvall, chair of the committee said: “Why did they go to so much trouble to cherry pick the bits they wanted before letting it go into administration?” 

The British Tourist Board trustees said VL’s insolvency could have implications for 140 staff and the matter had been passed on to the pensions regulator to see whether those affected could qualify for Pension Protection Fund insurance.

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