A forthcoming Court of Appeal hearing over the pension rights of a 74-year-old nun could trigger massive changes in pensions rules for members of religious orders.
Benedictine nun Sister Mary Scott, who runs the Outlton Abbey community near Stone, Staffordshire, is ill and wishes to retire on a state pension, according to local newspaper The Sentinel.
She has never been paid a wage or paid any tax as Benedictine rules bar her from having any possessions of her own.
Current DWP rules state that nuns and monks "who are fully maintained by their order" are not entitled to means-tested pension credit.
Sister May has been granted permission by the Court of Appeal to have a full hearing of the case, the ruling from which could affect the pension rights of 5,000 nuns and 1,400 monks in the UK.
Stephen Knafler QC represents Sister Mary, and argues the Benedictine order has no centralized authority, and so cannot fully maintain the nun.
Lord Justice Pill, presiding, said she could be considered to have maintained herself from her own enterprise by managing a nursing home and playgroup at the abbey and using the proceeds to support the Benedictine community.
A date for the hearing has yet to be set.
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