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Fresh hope for retired Inverness plumber facing £1.2 million pension scheme bill


By Neil MacPhail


Plumber Murray Menzies with MSP David Stewart.
Plumber Murray Menzies with MSP David Stewart.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart has secured cross-party working to win support for a change in the law to save an Inverness plumber from financial wipe-out.

Murray Menzies (71), who was a partner with his father in William Menzies and Son, in Academy Street, has been issued with an estimated bill for £1.2 million by the Plumbing Pensions scheme due to a legally-binding requirement to issue “debt notices” to those who have left, retired or changed the structure of their businesses.

Mr Menzies said being chased for such an astronomical sum felt like he was “stuck in a bad dream”.

Mr Stewart was appalled when he heard of Mr Menzies’ plight and is urging lawmakers in Westminster to make changes to help small plumbing companies deal with their pension liabilities.

He has sought the help of Conservative Moray MP Douglas Ross, the new parliamentary under secretary of state at the Scotland Office, and he is in the process of securing talks in Westminster with UK pensions minister Guy Opperman.

Mr Stewart said: “I met with Kate Yates, the chief executive of Plumbing Pensions, and she was saying she was absolutely certain that when putting this legislation through it was never the intention that plumbers would be so harshly punished for paying into a pension scheme for their workers.

“I’m looking at the Pensions Act to try to resolve this unintended consequence. That’s why I’m really pleased that Mr Ross has agreed to a cross-party approach. I know, from my own experience as a parliamentary private secretary for Alistair Darling in my MP days, that Mr Ross will be a good advocate who can make connections with other UK government departments and act as a strong liaison.”

SNP politicians are also coming on board to help people like Mr Menzies.

See tomorrow's Inverness Courier for more details.

Related article: Highland MSP David Stewart in bid to help out pension crisis plumber

Related article: Shock over £1.2m Plumbing Pensions bill



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