PAYMENTS totalling £972.9 million have now been made to victims of the Equitable Life scandal but 160,000 policyholders who are due a payout still need to be tracked down, the Government has said.

Some 877,414 policyholders have been paid out and the compensation scheme has contacted everyone it can trace, although there are still 160,000 people who are due a payment but the scheme has not yet been able to trace them or validate their address.

A pot of £1.5 billion has been put aside to compensate policyholders, and payments started in June 2011. But the scheme has run into significant problems trying to track down everyone who is owed a payout.

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The Government said the scheme "remains committed to tracing as many eligible policyholders as possible, and will continue to consider all proportionate actions it can take to do this".

The National Audit Office (NAO) previously raised fears that as many as 200,000 people, or up to one-fifth of eligible policyholders, would never be traced.

An advertising campaign was launched to step up the hunt for the lost victims of the scandal.

The compensation scheme has used tracing methods such as credit reference agencies and the electoral roll.