The civil partnership pension conundrum

The civil partnership pension conundrum

UPDATE (02/10/18) – Theresa May has announced that civil partnerships will be extended to different-sex couples at the Conservative party conference.  The government will enter a period of consultation regarding the implications before passing legislation.  We await confirmation of the date the first different-sex civil partnership can take place.


The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gave same sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as civil marriage. In 2013 new rules made marriage of same sex couples lawful, without repealing the earlier legislation. As a result, unmarried opposite sex couples, did not have the same rights as same sex couples, since civil partnerships between opposite sex couples were not recognised. However, on the 27th June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that a heterosexual couple can enter into a civil partnership. The appellants were in a committed long-term relationship which they wished to formalise, but had genuine ideological objections to marriage. Whilst this does not infer the rights a civil partnership provides to same sex partners, it paves the way for legislative change when the government reviews the matter in 2020.


The financial and legal benefits of marriage or civil partnerships include protection in the event of a relationship ending, and benefits including inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements. Should the government decide to recognise the rights a civil partnership provides, there could be a significant impact to pensions that only provide survivor benefits to spouses and surviving civil partners. This is most likely to impact final salary schemes.


In the light of such potentially significant changes to the administration of final salary pensions, now is the time to focus on understanding future liabilities, an activity that requires clean and accurate data. AiM are a trusted partner to a number of public and private pension providers, developing a suite of tools (dataEstate) to provide state of the  art data management and administration.


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