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Appeal Court ruling on pensions for same-sex couples a disappointment, says TUC

Commenting on yesterday’s Court of Appeal’s decision (Tuesday) in the case of John Walker against Innospec, which found that pension funds are permitted to pay less to gay and lesbian widows or widowers, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said yesterday:

“Today’s ruling is a real disappointment. There are thousands of people like Mr. Walker who want financial security for their surviving spouse or civil partner but can’t get it because their pension schemes continue to discriminate against same-sex couples.

“Had the court ruled in favour of Mr. Walker it would have removed one of the last remaining obstacles to true equality for gay and lesbian couples.

“It is now time for the government to act to end this injustice. It is over a year since its review reported on the ongoing discrimination in survivor pensions and ministers have done nothing in response.”

John Walker had 23 years’ service in his defined benefit pension scheme and paid the same contributions as other members. If he was married to a woman all of it would count towards a widow’s pension worth some £41,000 a year. However, his husband would only be entitled to a few hundred pounds a year if Mr. Walker dies before him.

The TUC estimates that there are around 70,000 members of defined benefit pension schemes in the private sector alone who will leave behind a surviving civil partner or same-sex spouse. The majority of schemes treat same-sex partners the same as widows but approximately one in four do not. The government’s review in 2014 found that the cost of equalising survivor pensions for same-sex partners would be negligible.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • The full Court of Appeal decision can be found at http://bit.ly/1QWjsGx
  • The TUC has been campaigning on survivor pension equality for many years, including a motion on the issue passed at this year’s annual Congress.
  • All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
  • Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews

Contacts:

Media enquiries:

Alex Rossiter  T: 020 7467 1285  M: 07887 572130  E: arossiter@tuc.org.uk
Tim Nichols  T: 020 7467 1388  M: 07808 761844  E: tnichols@tuc.org.uk
Michael Pidgeon  T: 020 7467 1372  M: 07717 531150  E: mpidgeon@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson (Mon to Wed)  T: 020 7467 1337  M: 07900 910624  E: egibson@tuc.org.uk
Kay Atwal (Thu and Fri)  T: 020 7467 1385  M: 07941 547469  E: katwal@tuc.org.uk

 

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