The Government has announced plans to fast-track measures to increase the payments made to people who lost their pension when their company went bankrupt.
The Department for Work and Pensions has published draft regulations which will raise the payouts people are entitled to under the Financial Assistance Scheme from 80 per cent to 90 per cent of accrued benefits, up to a maximum of £26,000 a year.
The 140,000 people who are potentially eligible for help from the scheme will also be able to take some of their pension as a lump sum under a package of planned improvements, while benefits accrued after 1997 will be indexed in line with inflation.
Among the 2,000 victims in the West Midlands were hundreds of workers from Kalamazoo, in Northfield, Birmingham Mint at Hockley, and UEF in Bromsgrove.
Workers will also start receiving payments from their scheme’s normal retirement age, rather than from 65 as is currently the case.
As a result, the Government will backdate payouts to people who would have qualified for them sooner under the new regulation to May 14, 2004, when the FAS was first announced.
In a bid to get the regulations passed quickly, the Government is limiting the consultation period to two weeks, rather than the usual 12.
It said there is cross-party and stakeholder support for the move and hopes to have the regulations approved in May, before the Whitsun recess.
Mr O’Brien said: "The shorter written consultation period will enable the FAS Operational Unit to work with the trustees of the affected schemes to ensure that, from the end of May, they are in a position to start paying qualifying members 90 per cent of their accrued pensions - from their scheme normal retirement age.
"Our aim will be to ensure that all existing cases are reassessed and paid arrears by the end of August."