Cohabiting couples could be in line for substantial gains if they are allowed to enter a civil partnership. A civil partnerships Bill, which is progressing through parliament, would if passed allow couples to apply for billions of pounds worth of tax and benefit payments. Currently, heterosexual couples only have the option of marriage, whereas same-sex couples have the choice to form a civil partnership or get married. "Millions of couples who live together could potentially benefit to the tune of several billion pounds if they were able to register a civil partnership," said Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London. "The biggest areas where they could gain include new rights under company pension schemes. This reform is long overdue and would stop these couples being treated by the state as second-class citizens."