Govt confirms no plans to reinstate war widows' pensions

The government has confirmed that it has “no plans” to reinstate war widows’ pensions for those who remarried or cohabited between 1973 and 2015.

In response to a written question from MP Angela Crawley, the government explained that while it was working to find “alternative methods” to mitigate the impact, it had no plans to reinstate the benefits.

Conservative MP, Johnny Mercer, said: “The government recognises the unique commitment that gervice families make to our country and remains sympathetic to the circumstances of those widows who remarried and cohabited before 1 April 2015.

“However, the government currently has no plans to reinstate War Widows’ Pensions for war widows who remarried or cohabited before the 2015 changes took effect.

“We are examining alternative methods to see whether we can mitigate the impact. However, this is a complex policy area and it is taking time to carefully consider the potential options within both financial and legal constraints.

He added: "This work is ongoing, and any recommendations will have to first be agreed with other government departments”.

In 2014, the government announced changes to the armed forces pensions, which allowed all those who qualify for the pension from 1 April 2015 to receive it for life, regardless of whether their partner died in service or the surviving partner decides to remarry or cohabit.

At the time, the decision was highlighted as evidence of the government’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, as it recognised the difficulties many partners of armed forces personnel face in earning their own pension, often as a result of having to relocate both within the UK and overseas.

However, the changes were not applied retrospectively, meaning that those who remarried between 1973 and 2015 are not eligible to receive a pension for life.

The War Widows’ Association has been campaigning on the issue since its emergence, and has recommended the reinstation of the pensions for those impacted.

The group recommended that benefits be reinstated as of 1st April 2015, to “ensure all war widows are treated equally", but acknowledging the complexity of the issue, has said it would be willing to agree a future date and not seek retrospective payments.

The War Widows’ Association chairman, Mary Moreland, commented : “The War Widows' Association as mainly a campaigning organisation has been lobbying government to put right this grotesque injustice' and ensure that all war widows/war widowers are treated equally, fairly and with the respect they deserve.

“The Association believes that war widows/war widowers, those that have given the most deserve 'Special Consideration' as set out in the Armed Forces Covenant.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that a previously scheduled meeting between the group and the Defence Secretary, expected to take place earlier this week on 24 March, was postponed due to coronavirus.

The Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, last month addressed the issue in the House of Commons in response to a question from fellow conservative MP, Laura Farris, emphasising that the government had no plans to reinstate war widows’ pensions for those impacted.

He stated: "The government recognises the unique commitment that service families make to our country and remain sympathetic to the circumstances of those widows who remarried and cohabited before 1 April 2015.

"However, the government currently have no plans to reinstate war widows’ pensions for war widows who remarried between 1973 and 2005—before the 2015 changes took effect.

“However, I hear my hon. friend’s call, and my colleague the Minister for Defence People and Veterans has already met representatives from the War Widows’ Association, and we are examining alternative methods to see whether we can mitigate the impact.”

    Share Story:

Recent Stories


Climate Investing
Laura Blows speaks to Aled Jones, Head of Sustainable Investing for Europe at FTSE Russell, and Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics and Engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, about the role of climate investing within a pension fund portfolio.

Managing volatility
In the latest Pensions Age podcast, Laura Blows speaks to Cambridge Associates head of European pension practice, Alex Koriath, about the Covid-related market volatility and how pension funds can prepare for the challenges ahead

De-risking options for pension schemes
In this latest Pensions Age podcast, Linklaters' Sarah Parkin talks to Laura Blows about the wide range of choice available to pensions schemes for the partial, or full, removal of their risks

Risk transfer opportunities
Laura Blows speaks to Lisa Purdy, Head of Fiduciary Distribution at Legal & General Investment Management and Gavin Smith, Pricing and Execution Director - UK PRT at Legal & General, about the impact of the recent market volatility on the bulk annuity and risk transfer market and the potential opportunities for the future

Bulk annuities during coronavirus
Laura Blows speaks to Just business development manager Prash Mehta about the impact of coronavirus on transactions