War widows who lost their military pensions for finding love have been refused compensation by Rishi Sunak.
The War Widows Association has accused the Treasury of failing to provide any form of monetary compensation for women who either remarried or cohabited with another person after losing their husband.
The group has been campaigning for widows since the Government under David Cameron announced changes to the pension scheme, which meant from April 2015 all those who qualified for the pension would receive it for life.
However, the changes were not applied retrospectively and as a result those who had remarried between 1973 and 2015 did not qualify for a life-long pension.
In a letter seen by The Telegraph, the group’s chairman, Moira Kane, cites correspondence she received from Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who claims compensation cannot be allowed “because it would set a precedent amongst all other pension schemes”.
Ms Kane writes that not only does the group strongly disagree with the outcome, but adds it is “disappointed that a decision has been made by the Treasury without granting us a meeting to discuss the possibilities”.
Government follows Armed Forces Covenant ‘only when it suits’
She questioned why the letter sent on behalf of the Treasury quotes parts of the Armed Forces Covenant “but appears to ignore the area which mentions special consideration for those who have given the most, ie the families of those who have given their lives for their country”.
She said: “The decision gives the impression that the Government only follows parts of the Armed Forces Covenant when it suits them or their purpose.”
The association has pledged to continue campaigning until it secures the “correct moral outcome for these ladies”.
“These ladies should never have had their pension removed in the first place but the country can put this right now by supporting our campaign and showing the Treasury that we care about our military families,” she adds. “Once you become part of a military family, you remain part of a military family even if the worst happens and your partner is deceased.”
The association has not sought back payment for years of lost income for the women, of whom there are believed to be 200, but “simply reinstatement”.
Such a move would enable them to be on a par with all other war widows, who since 2015 have retained their pension for life.
The letter also quotes Johnny Mercer, a former minister for veterans, who pledged that the Government “will arrive at a solution”.
The group has now called on the public to contact their MP, as well as the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence in order to “get this dreadful decision reversed”.
An HM Treasury spokesperson said: “The Government is eternally grateful to Armed Forces personnel and their families for the contributions and sacrifices they have made for this country – shown again this year as the Armed Forces have stepped up to support the nation through the pandemic.
“Since 2015, we have ensured widow(er)s of Service personnel would no longer lose their pensions if they remarried or cohabited with a new partner, but it is not possible to retrospectively reinstate pensions without setting a precedent which would not be fair to other public sector workers.”
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