Last year's most depressing meetings for me were the times when I had to meet and advise local people who had suffered from the Arch Cru mis selling scandal. I have many constituents who are affected by this, although fortunately not as many as were affected by Equitable Life.
The scandal arises because normal people took their savings and invested in what they thought were "low risk" investments, when they were clearly anything but low risk. The funds have got into terrible difficulties and an administrator is trying to get back as much as is possible for the investors.
I am the secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arch Cru, and have joined forces with Labour and other members of parliament to try and seek redress for the victims. The limited good news is that there will be some recovery, but the reality is that such a recovery is going to be a fraction of the original safe investment, and the recovery is taking a long time.
I met with some of the local victims in the autumn in Hexham. All felt understandably very hard done by, powerless, and some were clearly struggling to survive. In the House of Commons we are doing what we can to keep the pressure up on the FSA, the administrator, and the various other organisations involved to see that our constituents recover as much as is possible.
The Mial on Sunday has worked tirelessly to highlight this scandal and I pay tribute to the Money Section editor Jeff Prestridge, who has attended parliamentary debates, met victims and helped fight the inadequacy
of the present system of compensation. Jeff wrote the following 2 articles before christmas:
People talk about the glamour of life as an MP but most of it is helping people through life's unfairnesses: the sad reality is that people only tend to come to see me for my help when all else has failed them. Arch Cru and its effects is just such a case. 2013 will be a good year if we can get some redress for the victims both locally in Northumberland and nationally.