Gender-based discrimination of benefits for pensioners
The case was brought by Mr. Taylor petitioning against the difference in the age of eligibility between men and women to receive winter fuel allowances as part of social security. While the age of eligibility was 60 and above for women, it was 65 and above for men. Mr. Taylor cited the violation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security. The European Court of Justice referred to Articles 3 and 7(1)(a) of Council Directive 79/7/EEC of 19 December 1978 of the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security. The Court ruled that discrimination in age could be made only in those cases where it was necessary to ensure consistency between the pension on retirement and other benefit schemes. In this case, the Court found that it would not be consistent to choose an age different from the age of retirement to receive the benefit to winter fuel. The Court found merit in the petitioner’s allegation of unlawful sex discrimination.
The UK government followed the verdict by announcing the provision of winter fuel payments to men aged 60 and above. Retrospective payments from 1998, when the new regulations came to force, were also announced.