Indian company Tata Steel have announced that they have completed the sale of their European business - to Greybull Capital.Read the full story ›
ITV News' Wales Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports the latest from his sources close to the Tata Steel bidding process and explains what the latest consultation step means for the steel workers.
The steel trade unions have welcomed the Government's consultation on changes to pensions law as part of efforts to save Tata Steel and called on the company to uphold its "legal, social and moral responsibilities" to steel workers.
In a combined statement, Community, Unite and GMB endorsed the move to avoid the "unmitigated disaster" of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) going into the financial safety net of the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) with a sale of Tata's assets.
It is important that all stakeholders continue to explore all available options that avoid the need for the scheme to go into the PPF, which would be the worst deal for scheme members.
It is important to remember that Tata Steel remains the employer and sponsor of the BSPS. They have significant legal, social and moral responsibilities with regards to the British steel industry and those men and women who have worked and continue to work within it.
The Human Resources director for Tata Steel's European operations said the consultation would enable a "better outcome" for the vast majority of members of the BSPS.
We welcome the inclusion of an option to change the way that future payments in the scheme are increased. This option, which is fully supported by the pension scheme's trustees, provides a way for the scheme to continue to operate on a well-funded, low-risk basis indefinitely.
The British Steel Pension Scheme was set up on the basis that pension increases would be provided so long as they remained affordable. The proposed legislative changes would allow this unusual rule to operate as intended. That means it's unlikely that a regulatory change would affect other final salary pension schemes.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed the Government is set to launch an "open consultation" on changes to pensions law as part of efforts to save Tata Steel despite being "very wary of setting a precedent".
The consultation, which will run until June 23, sets out a number of different options for the British Steel Pension Scheme and its 130,000 members.
The scheme includes 14,000 people currently employed by Tata or another employer, 32,000 are deferred (no longer employed by Tata but below the scheme's normal pension age) and 84,000 pensioners.
The Government has been warned against the impact of setting a precedent by seeking to change pension law.
"No decision (on Tata's future) has been made," Mr Javid told MPs. "We are very wary of setting a precedent ... this is very much about this scheme and this scheme only in these very unique circumstances."
Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle warned against cutting the fund's long-term liabilities by benchmarking it to the consumer price index (CPI) rather than the higher retail price index (RPI), saying: "This change is currently illegal."
The GMB union has called on the Government to "take responsibility" for the pensions of Tata Steel workers and urged against any change in laws.
Ministers are considering changes to pension laws, which would leave steelworkers worse off in retirement but still fare better than many employees in other pension schemes.
GMB as a matter of policy consider that changes in pension schemes should not be retrospective and should be left to individual trustees and scheme members.
A change in law to precipitate punitive changes to accrued rights is not good for any of our members. The Government, as previous owners, has got to take responsibility as it did with Royal Mail.
Former Minister of State for Pensions Steve Webb has issued a warning over the government's proposed changes to pensions laws.
Mr Webb said that what may initially seem appropriate to rescue Tata Steel's UK business could create an adverse knock-on effect for other pensioners.
Joel Hills says no buyer wants to touch Tata Steel's UK pension liabilities "with a barge pole".
The government is considering changes to pension laws to reduce the burden and attract investment.
Our business editor says this could have wide-reaching implications beyond the steel sector.
The government is "going down a very dangerous path" in seeking to change pension laws to save Tata Steel's UK operation, an ex-Liberal Democrat pensions minister has said.
Steve Webb said any changes could affect the pension security of "hundreds of thousands of workers, well beyond the steel industry".
Everyone has huge sympathy for steel workers and for efforts to protect jobs, but rushed changes to pension rules risk driving a coach and horses through the pension security of hundreds of thousands of workers, well beyond the steel industry.
The rules to protect pensions have been carefully worked out over many years.
Rushed legislation could open the floodgates to employers who may wish to walk away from their pension schemes rather than honour their pension promises.
The Government must tread very carefully in this area.
Steelworkers' pensions must be protected in any plan to save Tata Steel's UK operation, Labour has said.
ITV News understands ministers are exploring ways of reducing the firm's UK pension burden in a bid to attract buyers.
Reacting to the reports, Owen Smith, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, said:
Dealing with the Tata pension scheme must be a central part of any Government package to save our steel industry, so it will be totally inappropriate for Ministers to rush out this vital announcement, in a written statement without any scrutiny on the final day before a recess.
Steel workers’ pensions must be protected, they’ve earned them with hard graft over many years.
So if Ministers are considering measures which might see those pensions reduced, MPs from all parties, especially those representing steel communities, will want a chance to question the plans, along with the trade unions who are playing such a vital and impressive role standing up for Tata workers.
If these reports are accurate, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions should come to the House to explain precisely what is being proposed, including how current and future steel pensioners will be affected and what precedents might be set by any changes to hard won pension protection legislation.