Memorandum submitted by Forces Widows Against Re-marriage Discrimination (17 September 2001)
I was in receipt of an Attributable Forces Pension until October 1998 when I re-married and lost my pension. I am now a member of FORWARD (Forces Widows Against Remarriage Discrimination).
The group FORWARD would like to draw the attention of the Defence Committee to the following discrepancies in changes the government made to our pension scheme in October 2000 when they allowed widows such as ourselves to keep their pensions for life (as long as they had not already re-married).
1. Widows who have chosen not to marry, or who have had a live-in "lodger" with a rent book, have been able to keep their attributable pension all along and will keep it even if they now decide to re-marry.
The FORWARD widows chose family values and honesty, thus forfeiting their pensions. They not only lost their pensions by re-marrying but now they will not have their pensions re-instated in line with their equals who can keep their pensions for life.
We consider this grossly unfair and discrimination against those who have re-married.
2. The government states that they do not apply changes to pension legislation retrospectively when in fact they have done so in October 2000. They have allowed widows back to 1973 to keep their pensions upon re-marriage, not just widows from October 2000. This change has therefore been applied retrospectively but has omitted to take into account those who have already re-married.
3. Widows in the category of having re-married number around 100 (number agreed by Heather Smith, Pensions Policy, MoD). These 100 widows have already saved the government a large amount of money by forfeiting their pensions upon re-marriage. Surely it is only fair and reasonable to re-instate their pensions in line with those who didn't lose their pension in the first place.
I hope the Defence Committee can take these facts into account. Many of the FORWARD widows have suffered an economic loss through re-marrying (not all husbands have large incomes), having already suffered a traumatic emotional loss, and many still have young children to bring up.
These widows who have re-married should surely be included in the October 2000 changes to the Attributable Forces Pension Scheme.