HC Deb 10 July 2001 vol 371 c495W
Mr. Woodward

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on access to membership of occupational pension schems for disabled people when they start employment. [3256]

Mr. McCartney

The Government want to ensure that all employees take advantage of access to good occupational pension schemes. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 inserted a "non-discrimination rule" into the rules of all occupational pension schemes which prevents the general exclusion of disabled people from occupational pension schemes although schemes can apply different eligibility criteria for benefits if the costs of providing those benefits is substantially greater.

Research undertaken in 1999 indicated that there was no evidence of systematic exclusion of disabled people from occupational pension schemes. There was evidence of the application of blanket restrictions on access to ill-health benefits. These restrictions were perceived to be difficult to challenge through existing channels.

The Disability Rights Task Force made a number of recommendations on occupational pensions including access to complaints procedures. Our response to the Task Force—'Towards Inclusion', published on 5 March 2001—proposes, when legislative time allows, amending the Disability Discrimination Act to allow disabled people to complain to an employment tribunal about discrimination by trustees or managers of an occupational pension scheme.