Pensions: War Widows

Treasury written question – answered on 27th February 2020.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Conservative, New Forest East

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2020 to Question 13939, what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies on withdrawn pensions of the potential reinstatement of pensions to war widows who lost them on remarriage or cohabitation; which groups other than war widows have had pensions withdrawn; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of restoring war widows’ pensions to war widows who divorce their subsequent spouses and then remarry them.

Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

It has been the policy of successive Governments that changes to public service pension and compensation schemes should not be applied retrospectively where benefits have already been awarded. This principle is a foundation for keeping the schemes sustainable and given this, the Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widow(er)s pensions with retrospective effect.

‘Pensions for life’ for surviving widow(er)s and civil partners were introduced across all public service pension schemes during the late 1990s – early 2000s, with prospective effect. Existing members of pension schemes who were accruing pensions were usually given the option to remain on former schemes or move across to new schemes.

However, in 2014, the Government made prospective changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) and War Pension Scheme (WPS). These stated that any Military Widow(er) who remarried or cohabited from 1 April 2015 onwards would retain their pension for life. This change was welcomed by campaigners, including the War Widows Association (WWA), who recognised at the time that such changes would not be applied retrospectively.

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