Police Widows’ Pensions

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 15th March 2017.

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Photo of Madeleine Moon Madeleine Moon Chair, Defence Sub-Committee, Chair, Defence Sub-Committee 11:00 am, 15th March 2017

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered police widows’ pensions.

This important issue was brought to my attention by a constituent of mine, Diane, who sadly lost her husband in the line of duty when he was serving as a police officer. Years down the line, Diane met another man and fell in love. The couple decided they wanted to be together. They found that the position was that Diane had to choose between their future happiness and maintaining her eligibility for her late husband’s pension. She is not alone in her predicament; hundreds of other widows and widowers are left to make the same decision.

Fortunately, in 2014 Cathryn Hall, who is here today, started a petition entitled “Grant Police Widows Pensions for Life—Don’t Make Them Choose Between Future Happiness and Pensions”, which says it all. Cathryn has bravely shared her story so I am not breaching any confidentiality in recounting it. She became a widow at 24 years old following the death of her husband Colin, who served in the West Midlands police force for 21 years. Some years later, Cathryn was left with a difficult decision: should she maintain her eligibility for the pension, into which her late husband had contributed 11% of his salary, or move in with a new partner and lose it?

The petition gathered more than 115,000 signatures, so I am here to ask yet again why so many women such as Diane and Cathryn are forced to choose. The reason is that individuals widowed between 1980 and the early 2000s are covered by the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 and lose access to their spouse’s pension if they remarry or cohabit.