Govt ‘dragging its heels’ on pensions gender equality – Webb

The government has been accused of “dragging its heels” on rectifying gender inequality in the pensions system by Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb.

Yesterday, (4 July) Pensions Minister Guy Opperman made a written statement to parliament which stated that the government would not be taking action in response to inequalities revealed in a review published in 2014.

The review found that a male widow would receive poorer benefits following the death of their wife than a female widow would get after the death of their husband.

Despite the review being published in 2014, the government has only just responded, and it has estimated that it would cost public sector pension schemes several billion pounds.

Commenting on the decision, Webb said: “When leading politicians can find billions of pounds to spend on their spending priorities, it is deeply disappointing that the money cannot now be found to put right a historic inequality in the pensions system.

“The report published in 2014 made clear that there remain clear unfairnesses between men and women in pensions, and yet five years later the government still does not think that this issue is worth addressing. A generation of widowers will lose out as a result.”

In the written statement, Opperman also revealed that the government has agreed to implement changes which will provide greater pensions equality for same-sex couples following a Supreme Court decision in July 2017.

In the case, known as the ‘Walker Judgement’, Mr Walker took the Innospec Pension Scheme to court because, as he was in a same-sex relationship, he would not be entitled to the same pension benefits than if his partner was to die and he was in an opposite-sex relationship.

This was because the law only gave him entitlement for service since 2005, when civil partnerships were created.

The court found in favour of Mr Walker and private sector pension schemes will also be expected to abide by the ruling.

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