The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain call upon the government to reinstate the War Widows’ Pension for all widows who were required to surrender their pension on remarriage or cohabitation.
- There are a number of compensation schemes available to UK serving and former serving personnel who are injured as a result of their service in the armed forces. The scheme that applies to each individual will depend on when and where they served. The schemes may also compensate surviving partners where the death is attributable to service.
- The War Pensions Scheme compensates a surviving spouse/partner where death has been caused, worsened or hastened by service in the Armed Forces before 6th April 2005. (The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme compensates where death was as a result of service after 6th April 2005.)
- The Association was founded in 1971 as a campaigning organisation and has a history of which it is truly proud. Following our successful ‘Pensions for Life’ campaign the Association welcomed the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 8 November 2014 that all war widow/ers in receipt of their war pension on 1st April 2015 would retain this for life.
- However, we recognise that a small number* of War Widows who had already remarried or co-habited fell outside the announcement; they are rightly aggrieved and feel disenfranchised. Those that remarried or cohabited between 1973 and 2005 were required to surrender their War Widows’ Pension on remarriage or co-habitation; while the Association appreciates that this was the law at the time we recognise that it is a bad law, absolutely wrong and must be amended.
- Successive governments have argued that discretionary improvements to benefits from armed forces pension schemes should generally not be applied retrospectively. The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain is not calling for any change to the law to be introduced with a retrospective element. The War Widows’ Association are calling for reinstatement from the earliest date possible for this small number of war widows; this would be a progressive forward-thinking step and would ensure equality and fairness for all war widows in line with the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant.
- The War Widows’ Association continue to campaign to ensure that all War Widows and War Widowers are treated equally and fairly. We take every opportunity to engage with Government, influential individuals and groups. The Association is proud to be recognised as the UK’s leading representative organisation for widow/ers of armed forces personnel where death of a spouse/recognised partner has been attributed to their service.
- Clarification on reinstatement:-
a. If your spouse died or left Military or War Service before 31 March 1973 and you also receive the War Pension Scheme Supplementary Pension you keep your War Widows’ Pension for life.
b. If you were widowed after 5 April 2005 and receive Survivors Guaranteed Income Payment from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme you keep your War Widows Pension for life.
c. From 1st April 2015 if your spouse died, left Military or War Service after 31 March 1973 and before 5 April 2005 and you were in receipt of a War Widows Pension on that 1st April 2015, you keep your War Widows’ Pension for life.
d. However, if your spouse died or left Military or War Service after 31 March 1973 and before 5 April 2005, and you remarried or co-habited you were required to surrender your War Pension or Compensation; to date this group do not receive their War Pension or compensation.
e. The War Widows’ Association believes this to be unfair and outdated.
- Precedents for reinstatement have already been established.
a. The Scottish government confirmed that that the changes apply to those husbands, wives or civil partners of police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty who have already had their pension withdrawn. They will be entitled to payment of their pension again from today, 5th October 2015. http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Widow-and-widower-pensions-reinstated-1ded.aspx#downloads;
b. The Northern Ireland Assembly approved legislation which meant that from 1st July 2014, RUC widows would retain their pensions if they remarried. Initial legal advice indicated that only those widows covered by the 1988 pension scheme would be eligible. The Department following further advice confirmed that widows previously in the 1973 scheme are also entitled to the reinstatement of their pensions.
*We estimate the figure to be between 200 and 300 War Widows.