Below is the letter from Ministers at Defence, announcing a new policy for War Widows.
The issue of Pensions for Life for Armed Forces widows raised by the War Widows’ Association, the Royal British Legion and the Forces Pension Society has caused much concern over many years. Since I took up post, I have therefore been keen to do the right thing. Anna and I are now delighted to let you know that we have decided to change both the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 (AFPS75) and the War Pension Scheme (WPS). The changes we have made will ensure that from 1 April 2015, widows, widowers and surviving civil partners of all members of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme will now retain their pensions for life, fulfilling the Government’s ongoing commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a key commitment of this Government. It was introduced into law to ensure that personnel and veterans, and their families, do not suffer disadvantage due to service. These changes recognise the unique commitment made by Service families, who have often have had to cope with long and uncertain separations while their spouse or civil partner has deployed on operations. The mobile nature of Service life has prevented many earning their own occupational pension. We recognise this will have placed them at a disadvantage in trying to plan for their own financial future. No longer.
The substance of the changes mean that from 1 April next year the spouse or civil partner of all members of our AFPS75 and any WPS widow will retain their pension for life if they have not already surrendered it due to remarriage or cohabitation. For those who have already surrendered their pension due to remarriage or cohabitation, should that relationship end they can apply to have their pension restored for life. This better meets the Government’s commitment to the Covenant.
Anna and I know that many of you have written directly to us in support of your constituents. With the new policy now in place, Anna will be replying individually to all those letters. We hope that you will welcome this announcement.