UK

War Widows Urge Government To Reassess Pension Scheme

Around 300 women who re-married between 1973 and 2005 are unable to claim a war widow’s pension due to a gap in legislation.

Hundreds of women who lost their partners during service in the military are urging the Government to reassess a loophole in the War Widows' Pension Scheme.

Around 300 women, who remarried between 1973 and 2005, are currently unable to receive the pension due to a gap in legislation.

It means the women would only have their pension reinstated if they divorce their current partner and immediately tie the knot again. 

Widows affected by the loophole have now launched a social media campaign in a bid to make the Government change its stance.

Susan Rimmer married Private Jim Alfred Lee in October 1971, when she was aged 18.

Less than a year later, her husband was killed by an IRA landmine in Northern Ireland.

"We didn’t even have a first wedding anniversary," she told Forces News.

"But at least I was pregnant, they [her children] got a part of him.

"I went to that church and I got married, I went to that church and they buried him, then I went back to the church to christen my daughter.

"It’s the way we’re being treated now what hurts – as if 'Ah, so what, only a soldier,' but not to me he wasn't."

Initially, widows were forced to sacrifice the pension if they remarried later in life.

Private Lee and Ms Rimmer on their wedding day in October 1971.

In 2015, then-prime minister David Cameron redressed this policy, announcing widows no longer had to choose between the finance of the pension and having a partner.

However, it only applied from 2005 onwards - meaning a significant number of women were unable to claim due to their marriage date.

Charity South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) is leading the 'fair treatment of war widows' campaign.

The charity supports victims of terrorism during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Kenny Donaldson from SEFF said: "What we’re hearing back from Government is that they cannot set precedent around retrospective payment of a pension.

"So, what we have put forward, is that there would be a one-off acknowledgement payment for those widows for the years for which they have not been in receipt of a pension and that their pension then would start again tomorrow morning.

"That’s the solution to this issue."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "We recognise the significant commitment that service families make to our country.

"There are no plans to retrospectively instate war widow pensions, but we are considering alternative methods to help support the widows affected and it is right that we take sufficient time to do so."