State PensionMar 1 2023

Advisers reject campaign to give terminally ill state pension access

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Advisers reject campaign to give terminally ill state pension access
Marie Curie handing petition to Downing Street

End-of-life charity Marie Curie has called on the government to give terminally ill people of working age access to their state pension, but a number of advisers have rejected the idea.

Last week, TV presenter and football pundit Chris Kamara handed in a petition with more than 166,000 signatures to Downing Street calling for improved financial support for people with a terminal illness.

The Dying in Poverty campaign highlighted that people who die in working age have paid their national insurance contributions for an average of 24 years.

It has called for this group of people to have access to their state pension, stating it would substantially reduce the likelihood of a terminal diagnosis driving working age people into poverty. 

Marie Curie ambassador Kamara said: “We never had much money growing up, so I understand the strain that places on a family. Marie Curie cared for my mum just before she died in 2003.  

“I can’t imagine having to deal with both of these stressful situations at the same time but that is what everyday life has been like for the people I’ve met through this campaign.  

“What terminally ill people are going through at the moment is simply not right. Extending the state pension to people with a terminal illness would make such a big difference. Those final weeks and months are precious. People should be spending their time making memories, not worrying about money.” 

Adviser views

Following the campaign, financial planner Steve Buttercase took to Twitter to gain some thoughts from IFAs about whether the terminally ill should be eligible immediately for their state pension regardless of age. 

Buttercase said his original motivation was to canvas views from colleagues on how the state pension is often cited in campaigns, like Waspi, as a funded entitlement. 

“I know many IFAs see it as just another benefit, while some see it more as a fulfilment of the social contract between the state and citizens,” he said.

“The other point I unearthed is that because of how inadequate the benefit system is, organisations like Marie Curie look to more reliable pillars of support such as the state pension to combat poverty.”

He said as an industry, “we can be a bit pompous, conservative and technocratic”.

“I suspect very few IFAs do pro bono work for the poorest - but most respondents in this wanted the people highlighted to get more, just not via an early state pension - and that was encouraging,” he said. 

“As ever this was about the yawning chasm between what citizens believe they have, or should have, and the reality.”