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Union calls to reduce UK benefit discrimination

UK- Hundreds of thousands of women, young people and those in same-sex relationships in the UK are missing out on pension monies because the law discriminates against them, according to the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G).

At a conference today in Eastbourne, the T&G called on the government to rectify inconsistencies and equalise pensions legislation.

"Single women pensioners are still four times more likely to be living in poverty than single male pensioners. The pensions system is still based around a married person in full-time employment throughout their working life, a model that just does not apply to today's world“, says Diana Holland, the T&G's National Organiser for Women, Race and Equalities.

Four key points were mentioned at the conference. The T&G wants the government to ensure survivors’ benefits apply to all. Under the current law, same-sex or unmarried couples cannot receive their partners’ pensions in the event of death.

In the case of women on maternity leave, the T&G is calling on the government to make up their National Insurance credits automatically. Although women on maternity leave are entitled to have their NI credits made up so they receive a fuller pension on retirement, this is not done automatically. Many women miss out on the pension they are entitled to as they are simply not aware that they can receive NI credits whilst on maternity leave.

Young people should be included in the pensions system say the T&G. Many young people, it claims, may not be in the right pension scheme if in one at all, due to declining employer contributions and a lack of clear information about pension options.

Echoing the demands of the National Association of Pension Funds, the T&G also wants to see an increase in the amount of the over-80s’ bonus. The 25p extra given to pensioners over the age of 80 has not been increased since 1971.

The UK government is coming under increasing pressure to reform the pension system. A green paper on pensions is expected to be published by the government this Autumn.

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