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War Pension Scheme

Recently in the press or the media you may have seen or heard about disadvantaged military widows.

At present there are two campaigns being taken forward about broadly similar issues, but which affect different groups of military widow/ers.The War Widows Association of Great Britain is campaigning on behalf of about 4000 disadvantaged War Widows who receive their pension from the War Pension Scheme – this is an  entirely separate  issue from the Forces Pension Society  campaign.

The Government has acknowledged that War Widows  deserve special  recognition and  compensation for the  loss of their spouse – hence the payment of a  war  widows  pension or an  award under the  Armed Forces  Compensation Scheme  2005. This group is tightly  ring fenced with no read across to other sectors of the   public  sector – War Widows are by  definition a unique  category.

There is no  danger of  setting a  precedent  in legislation,  as retrospective   legislation was  enacted  for  pension  changes  relating to   in  2000.  We  are not  asking  for  any retrospective  payments,  only that  all those  currently in receipt of a  pension should  keep that pension for life.

To allow all   to keep their  pensions  for life  is merely  tidying up the    existing  anomalies and  removing the  discrimination that  exists  against the   post  1973 War Widows. 

This small ring fenced group of War Widows were awarded their War Widow/ers Pension after 31 March 1973 and before 6 April 2005. Under present legislation they lose their War Widows Pension if they remarry or enter a co-habiting relationship. If they  were under the  pre 1973 scheme or the  post  2005  scheme they  would  retain their war  widows pension.

The   most  recent ( March  2013)  statistics  for   the   numbers of  post  1975 War Widows   shows that  there are c  4105  of  which 2,695  (  66%) are   aged  over  60 years  old and  1530 are over   70 years  old. One might assume that this age group is less likely to remarry than those aged under 60 years.

However the numbers remarrying are pitifully small. SPVA inform us that between April 1 2008 and 31st  March  2013,  only  20 widows lost their  pension due to remarriage – that is an average of 4 a year at £7K each. This represents the only  saving the Treasury  would  make as  all the other pensions are being  paid anyway.

With such small figures surrendering their pensions one might ask “why bother?”

The older  ladies  do not understand the concept and  legal status of  cohabitation and live in fear that any  friendship they  have  with someone will be  classed as  cohabitation and they  would   jeopardise their   War Widows  pension.

Loneliness is a very big issue for   elderly people and it is acknowledged that   single older people keep better health if they have   companionship and do not live alone. Many elderly war  widows  were widowed before they  had children  so lack  family  support in their old  age  - they are  all alone and  when  ill may  need the support of a  live in friend.

Changes in legislation mean that even sharing a house with a same sex friend is open to misinterpretation of cohabitation.

The  younger   ladies - there are  110 War Widows in this  category  that  are under  40 years  old –deserve the right  to  rebuild a new  family  unit  for them and their  children  while  retaining their  financial  stability.

This   stability  was  compensation for the  ultimate  sacrifice that  their   husband  made and   which  is probably  used  to  pay a mortgage  etc.

Service life with its many and  unpredictable  moves, and  dependence  on  wives  for  welfare  on the bases,   mean this  generation of  widows were unable to  develop a  career  and  so  have no  pension in their  own  right. They are  dependent on their  widows’ pensions.

Even the Government estimate (Hansard  21.01 2014) of  £70,000 a  year   seems  inflated and  the sum is  probably nearer £30,00 a year. By any standards this is a very small cost for a lot of good will.

We would really value support and do appreciate the constraints you might have. However we would be most grateful if you would do what you can to convince the MOD that his is something they can and should do, and if you could circulate this information as widely as possible. An Early Day Motion is being tabled in early June.

 

6 June 2014

0800 169 2942

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