Joy as government ditches war pension penalty for widows

Madlaine Dunn ran a campaign to improve pension rights for war widows in Hampshire. Picture: Allan Hutchings (142480-732)
Madlaine Dunn ran a campaign to improve pension rights for war widows in Hampshire. Picture: Allan Hutchings (142480-732)
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WAR widows have welcomed a government decision that means thousands of bereaved military wives can remarry without losing their pensions.

Prime minister David Cameron announced at the weekend he is closing the legal loophole which means the bereaved are hit financially if they find another partner.

The move follows a long-running campaign by forces charities and is due to come into place from April.

Madlaine Dunn, the chairwoman of the Portsmouth War Widows’ Association, said: ‘It’s fabulous. It’s about time. We have been asking for this for a long time.

‘They have timed it well.

‘It doesn’t come in until April.

‘I would have thought they would have brought it in straight away but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

‘This will make things a lot better for those concerned.

‘This gives the young women another chance, should they want it, which we all deserve.

‘Some of them are aged from their 80s to 90s, depending when their husbands dies, but I think there are 30 aged under 30.

‘They will be given a better chance by being able to decide how they want to carry on with their lives. I think that’s fair.’

Between 1973 and 2005 armed forces rules dictated that benefits ended when widows remarried or started cohabiting.

Although the issue does not exist for more recent schemes, it is thought about 4,000 widows have potentially been affected.

They include people who lost loved ones in action in the Falklands, the Gulf wars and Afghanistan. But now that is set to change.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who campaigned on the issue, said: ‘It struck me as really unfair that people wanting to build a life could not because they were worried about their pension.

‘It is great news that it is being changed from April 1. It is a really good thing that we have been able to deliver as there are a number of people affected by it.’

Fareham MP Mark Hoban added: ‘A lot of people have been campaigning for this and the government has recognised that.

‘We have a duty to war widows, as well as those still serving, to keep that pension and ensure that they are able to receive it and relieve that worry.’

Major General John Moore-Bick, general secretary of the Forces Pensions Society, said: ‘The armed forces community thanks the prime minister and his defence team for listening.’