Pension trustees sue local YMCA chair for deficit

YMCA Pension Plan Trustee says south Wales charity owes £18,200

The administrators of the YMCA employee pension fund are taking the chair of a local YMCA to court over a disputed £18,200 liability.

Colin Shaw, a volunteer at Hirwaun YMCA in south Wales, is due to appear in court on 18 March over the deficit that YMCA Pension Plan Trustee says his association owes to it.

YMCA PPT, the body that runs the YMCA pension plan, has been in dispute with a small group of local associations. They dispute that they must increase their payments to the scheme, which is in deficit by £29m and was closed to new entrants in 2007.

The PPT says all associations in the scheme must make monthly contributions to the shortfall and pay off their share of the deficit as soon as their last employed pension scheme member leaves or retires.

Shaw said Hirwaun YMCA did not dispute that two former members of staff had been in the scheme or that it paid employers' contributions for them.

But Shaw, who is being held personally liable for Hirwaun's alleged debt because it is an unincorporated charity, said: "There is no evidence that we've ever joined the pension scheme. We have never signed anything."

Chris Poulard, chair of the PPT, said associations were liable to pay a share of the deficit only if at some time they had employees who became entitled to receive benefits from the scheme and paid employers' contributions for them.

"The trustee of the scheme is duty bound to collect from participating employers their contributions towards any deficit," said Poulard.

"We will pursue all available means of securing payment, ultimately by court proceedings. In that some participating employers are not incorporated, that can mean notice is served on individual trustees."

Only two out of 127 associations were disputing liability, he added.

Wes Jefferies, vice chair of Hastings & Rother YMCA, which fought off a demand for £200,000 in 2008 by arguing that the scheme could not prove that the association was liable, said three YMCAs were being taken to court over the matter.

"Some YMCAs are paying up because they feel threatened," he said. "They are going after people in their seventies. In effect, they will close down organisations and our mission will be sacrificed on the altar of a pension scheme that was so badly run it wasn't legal."

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