Military officials call for change in armed forces pension rules

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SENIOR military officials are calling on the government to change rules that deprive widows of their spouse’s pension if they remarry or live with a new partner.

In a letter to The Times, Lord Craig of Radley, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, Chief of the Defence Staff until last year and Admiral Lord Boyce, a former First Sea Lord, have called for changes to be made.

The campaigners say that forcing a widow to give up a pension she helped her husband earn by supporting his military career runs contrary to the Armed Forces Covenant, which is supposed to stop people being disadvantaged by military service.

They say: ‘We appeal to the Prime Minister to bring justice to service widows who lose their pension on cohabitation or marriage.’

The letter adds: ‘Most women affected by the widows’ rules receive pensions of less than £3,000 a year. Many cannot afford this loss, so face a life of enforced solitude.’

‘The new Armed Forces Pension Scheme, due for implementation in April 2015, is a unique opportunity to simplify a complex and unfair system and introduce a common rule for all Service widows from that date, avoiding 40 more years of misery for those affected.’

Janice Nicoll, the widow of a Royal Navy officer, is one of those who has realised she cannot afford to remarry.

‘It’s not just about the money, but the fact that however he died, my husband still served his country for many years,’ she said.

‘He served on nuclear submarines, and put his life on the line.’