In the August 2013 edition of Pensions Priorities, we referred to the Government's review of survivorship benefits under occupational pension schemes. This stems from the current legal position that, whereas pension benefits under occupational pension schemes must be provided to same sex married couples or civil partners, they need not be as generous as those for opposite sex married couples. The review was published on 26 June 2014 and considered the differences in survivor benefits in occupational pension schemes between different groups and the costs and effects of eliminating those differences. Although it noted various findings, it did not give a clear steer as to whether the differences in the legal minimum should be eradicated.
The government has the power, under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to make changes to eliminate the differences, having considered the review. As yet, there is no indication as to whether the government will use this option, and increase the cost to defined benefit schemes, or choose to leave the present inequalities in place.