Bosses who risk workers' pensions could be jailed under new plans

Rogue bosses who risk workers' pensions face being jailed for up to two years under new plans.

The prime minister said the measures would help protect staff by cracking down on the "irresponsible few" at the top of companies.

It comes after the collapse of BHS in 2016 with a £571 million deficit in its pot for 19,000 pension holders.

There were calls from MPs at the time for the firm's former owner Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood, before he agreed to pay £363 million to rescue the pension scheme.

Theresa May said the government is "making sure the Pensions Regulator has the powers it needs to crack down on the minority of businesses who shirk their responsibilities", adding the new regulations will mean responsible employees, employers and pension schemes "will no longer have to bail out the irresponsible few."

Theresa May says she wants to "crack down" on businesses that shirk their responsibilities Credit: PA

Dodging or abusing pension responsibilities will be made a crime under the plans and the regulator will be given powers to intervene earlier when problems are suspected.

The Insolvency Service will also be given extra powers to help protect employees and small suppliers from reckless company directors.

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said: "Up and down the country the vast majority of employers are doing the right thing and acting in the best interests of their staff.

"But we have seen what can go wrong, therefore we will clamp down on and - where appropriate - punish directors who wilfully or recklessly put pension schemes at risk.