Furious battle widows make demand after ‘mean-spirited’ Government makes harsh choice | UK | News | EUROtoday

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Lord Harlech will meet Britain’s offended battle widows after the Government was branded “mean-spirited” for excluding some from a brand new Recognition Payment.

The Tory peer and House of Lords’ Ministry of Defence spokesman has agreed to attend the War Widows Association AGM in Stratford Upon Avon later this month to listen to their complaints.

It comes after 72 ladies – ready years for a deal – had been lastly instructed they not certified for the money resulting from last-minute eligibility standards.

The subject prompted heated exchanges within the Lords – with the Government accused of ‘trying to claw back money’.

Around 300 widows whose husbands died whereas serving their nation misplaced £7,500 a 12 months as a result of they remarried earlier than April 2015.

Shockingly in the event that they divorced or had been widowed once more they’d get the cash.

The Daily Express has campaigned with them for the pension to be re-instated and the Government final 12 months authorised an £87,500 ex gratia fee as a substitute.

But a change in standards means dozens who obtain an attributable or occupational pension from their late husband have now been excluded.

Labour’s Baroness Crawley mentioned: “There is huge anger among many war widows because of the last-minute eligibility criteria imposed on this recognition payment.

“Last May, the Government finally agreed that all war widows deserved special consideration under the Armed Forces covenant; now, they appear to have gone back on their word.

“Does the noble Lord the Minister realise that widows whose partners died as a result of service and who remarried after 2000 have been excluded from this payment?

“I am talking about war widows from the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. Will the Government now make it right?

Conservative Baroness Fookes – President of the WWA – told Lord Harlech members were ‘wholly dissatisfied’ with the criteria changes.

She said: “Does he realise that this question of the attributable pension making war widows ineligible was never raised specifically with the many deputations to Ministers?

“It was certainly never raised with me. It appears simply to be a last-minute attempt to claw back some money that is rightfully theirs. I call this, at best, mean-spirited.

“We are wholly dissatisfied with this latest turn of events.”

Lord Harlech confirmed that up to now 72 widows had had their functions for the fee turned down.

He mentioned: “The Government continue to recognise the unique commitment that service families make to our country, and we remain sympathetic to those widows and widowers who forfeited pensions under historic rules because they remarried or cohabited.

“In acknowledgement of this, the war widows recognition payment scheme was launched on 16 October 2023. I am pleased to say that, so far, 190 individuals have made a successful application, with payments having begun in January 2024.

“72 individuals have not been accepted for a reward. However, the Ministry of Defence denies that the eligibility criteria have changed: 49 of those were already in receipt of financial reward for their bereavement; 10 are eligible for their war widow’s pension to be reinstated due to no longer being in a relationship that led to the original forfeiture; and 13 have had their initial claim rejected because of either insufficient evidence or because their partner sadly passed away from a non-service attributable death.”

Asked how a lot cash had been paid out up to now he mentioned his psychological arithmetic was ‘not good enough’ so he would write to Baroness Garden of Frognal with the figures.

Chair of the WWA Moira Kane, who was on the debate, mentioned Lord Harlech had been ‘misled.’

“Once again the MOD are saying that our Association was kept up to date with the change in criteria concerning eligibility,” she instructed the Express later.

“I am afraid that Lord Harlech has been misled by the MOD.”