Aegon UK set to freeze pay in bid to cut costs by £2m

Aegon, the life and pensions group, plans to freeze the pay of thousands of workers in a bid to save more than £2 million in costs.

The proposal, which is being put to a ballot by trade union officials, comes as the Dutch-owned firm looks to take some 80m a year in running costs out of its UK business. That goal was first announced in June and could lead to the loss of as many as 600 jobs at its Edinburgh base.

The group, which employs 2,400 people north of the Border, said it was proposing not to award an increase in pay to staff and management in January.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Based on January 2010's pay settlement of 2 per cent, it hopes to save about 2.5m next year if the move goes ahead.

Several major employers have imposed company-wide pay freezes as a way of cutting costs during the economic downturn or to avoid making redundancies.

A spokeswoman for Aegon UK said: "Aegon is currently implementing a refocus and restructure programme, announced on 22 June, which seeks to reduce operating costs across the business by 25 per cent by the end of 2011.

"As part of this programme, we have committed to look at all payroll and non-payroll expenditure to achieve the target cost savings.

"As a result, Aegon is proposing not to award an increase in pay to either staff or management in January 2011."

She added: "Based on last year's pay settlement of 2 per cent, we have identified that this will achieve a cost saving of around 2.5m next year."

The spokeswoman said no decision had yet been taken on possible job cuts.

Last month, the group sold its third-party pensions administration business to corporate consultants Goddard Perry.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In September it unveiled plans to close the business, which employs 82 staff in Daresbury, Cheshire.

But following the announcement, Goddard Perry approached Aegon with an interest in buying the business and terms were agreed.

Aegon has already taken a number of measures to restructure its UK operations under the auspices of chief executive Otto Thoresen, including the closure of its group risk business, its withdrawal from the bulk annuities market and the reorganisation of the company's UK sales division, which led to 106 job losses.

It wants to focus on life insurance, pensions and asset management in order to improve earnings growth, cash flow generation and return on capital.