Pensions update amid plans to extend payments

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Mims Davies said there will be no immediate changes to PIP, or to health assessments.
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Mims Davies -Credit:Copyright Unknown

A proposed law to ensure terminally ill people have access to pension payments for longer if their provider has gone bust has cleared the House of Commons. The Pensions (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill received an unopposed third reading and will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords at a later date.

It extends eligibility for certain terminal illness pension payments to those with a life expectancy of 12 months, up from six months. The Bill would cover two schemes, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS), which provide funding to pensioners whose defined benefit schemes have become insolvent.

Work and Pensions Minister Mims Davies said: "The changes this Bill makes will mean that members are able to rightly claim their compensation on the grounds of terminal illness if a medical professional confirms that they have less than 12 months to live, rather than the current six months."

She added: "We know being told that you're nearing the end of your life can be a frightening experience, both for the individual concerned, their family and their loved ones. This Bill, seemingly very small in size, will have a really positive impact on those whom the provisions cover at a very difficult time.

"As with the 2022 Act, the Bill will ensure that when someone does reach the final stages of their lives they will not have to have those additional financial concerns. Receiving a payment at an earlier stage in their final illness will help them to plan more effectively to provide them with the opportunity to focus on their time with the people that matter to them."

Conservative MP Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), the Bill's sponsor, earlier said: "It will provide financial assurance to those who have received the devastating diagnosis of a terminal illness and have also seen the sponsors of their pension scheme become insolvent."

Elsewhere in the Commons on Friday, the Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Bill also received an unopposed third reading. The Bill was tabled by Conservative MP Fiona Bruce (Congleton), who was appointed as the Prime Minister's special envoy for freedom of religion or belief in December 2020.

The legislation aims to secure the role by making it a legal requirement of future governments to appoint a special envoy for freedom of religion or belief. In 2019, an independent review by the Bishop of Truro recommended establishing "permanently, and in perpetuity" the special envoy role.

Ms Bruce said: "The men, women and children around the world who suffer, whether under the hard arm of authoritarian regimes or at the ruthless whim of militant mobs, they need not just our voices, they need our partnership. Not just our words, they need our actions. Not just our intentions, but our effective help. And that's why this role and the office that I have the privilege of holding at present needs securing and resourcing long term."