Developments in Employee Benefits law and practice

27 August 2018

TPR and FCA targeting scammers in new campaign

This case, R (on the application of Elmes) v Essex County Council, related to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). Cohabiting partners of members of the LGPS were eligible, from April 2008, to receive survivor benefits. In order to qualify for payment of a survivor's pension, however, the cohabiting partner had to be nominated by the member.

Amendments were made from 1 April 2014 to provide that, going forward, surviving cohabitees no longer needed to satisfy the nomination requirement.

Ms Elmes and her partner Mr Smith had two children and lived together for more than 21 years until Mr Smith died in November 2011.

Mr Smith had been a member of the LGPS (Essex County Council Fund). Following his death, Ms Elmes applied for a survivor's pension. Essex refused because it had not received a form nominating her to receive benefits.

Ms Elmes challenged Essex's refusal to grant her a survivor's pension by way of judicial review, but the proceedings were stayed pending judgment in another case (Brewster) which concerned the nomination requirement in the LGPS in Northern Ireland.

The Supreme Court in Brewster held that the nomination requirement imposed on unmarried partners by Northern Ireland regulations as a condition of eligibility for a survivor's pension was in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The stay on Ms Elmes’ case expired in March 2017, following the decision in Brewster. However, Essex then argued that it could not pay Ms Elmes a survivor's pension without a change to legislation or a court declaration that the nomination requirement was unlawful. There was a concern that the payment could be ‘unauthorised’ under HMRC regulations.

Mr Justice Walker subsequently held that the 2007 Regulations must be read as meaning that the nomination requirement did not apply. An order requiring Essex to pay Ms Elmes the arrears of her survivor's pension together with interest was made.

Benefit statistics

The latest DWP Benefits Statistical summary includes latest State pension information.

There were 13 million recipients of State Pension at February 2018, a fall of 130 thousand on a year earlier. This fall was largely driven by a decrease in the number of female State Pension recipients relating to State Pension Age rises. The average weekly State Pension amount in payment at February 2018 was £138.96, a rise of £4.25 since February 2017.

The new State Pension (nSP) was introduced for people reaching State Pension age from 6 April 2016. At February 2018 there were 730 thousand nSP recipients with an average weekly amount in payment of £150.37 (including any Protected Payments).

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/734667/dwp-quarterly-benefits-summary-august-2018.pdf

Banking, insurance and other financial services if there’s no Brexit deal

The government has published the first series of technical notes outlining the possible fallout from a no-deal Brexit. The document on banking, insurance and other financial services anticipated a series of problems from the very first day.

According to the publication, more than a million Britons living in the European Union could lose access to their pensions, bank accounts and other financial services if the U.K. leaves in March without securing an agreement with Brussels.

It has also been confirmed that there will be no changes to UK employment and workplace rights derived from EU law if the UK leaves the EU without a formal rel="noopener noreferrer" deal in place.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/banking-insurance-and-other-financial-services-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/banking-insurance-and-other-financial-services-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

Ombudsman commits to shorter and simpler case resolution

In his latest Corporate Plan, the Pensions Ombudsman has committed to a “shorter and simpler” case resolution.

The Corporate Plan sets out key aims and the strategies over the next three years:

  • To provide a one stop shop for the resolution of workplace and personal pension complaints
  • To support the pensions industry and the alternative dispute resolution sector
  • To transform and improve rel="noopener noreferrer" its current services and processes.

https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/2018/08/corporate-plan-2018-2021-published/

Contact:

John W. Wilson LLB(Hons) FPMI ACII, Head of Research| Email: john_wilson@jltgroup.com

Stephen Williams, Senior Research Consultant | Email: stephen_williams@jltgroup.com