How often do you find yourself wanting to sit down in Parliament, bashing the heads of politicians together in order to ultimately change certain parts of existing scandalous pensions legislation? It’s happening all too often with me as a pensions journalist.
This week, I reported on John Walker, a gay man who has just been granted permission to take his fight for equal pension death benefits to the Supreme Court following the Court of Appeal’s ruling against him last year.
Walker is in a legal battle to allow his husband, 13 years his younger, to inherit the same percentage of his DB pension that a female partner would be entitled to. The 2010 Equality Act currently has an exemption allowing companies which have an occupational pension scheme to restrict pensions paid to surviving same sex spouses to benefits accrued since 2005 when the Civil Partnership Act came in.
Such shocking outdated legislation has resulted in Walker working out that if he had a female partner, she would receive £50,000 a year from his final salary pension scheme but instead his husband will receive a mere £500 or £600. How in 21st century Britain is this remotely acceptable? To essentially discriminate on a sexual orientation basis is shocking. The fact that the case has not been sorted before reaching the Supreme Court is bad enough in itself.
Ultimately, it is a classic example of a series of governments choosing to protect existing legislation. Equalisation of benefits here is the answer and anyone who argues that this cost would be too costly is wrong. Equalising the position has been estimated to cost around £0.1 billion and in the grand scheme of things (I’m thinking the cost of de-risking exercises to eradicate multi-billion pound DB deficits here), it’s nothing.
The country needs to get a grip were this legislation is concerned and wake up to reality. Britain doesn’t work along the lines of Adam and Eve anymore!