27th July 2023: This update was originally posted in our members-only forum to try and answer all questions and comments, but we thought it might be useful if we made it more publicly available:
Members have started a number of threads on the Forum – all essentially focusing on the Campaign 300 and the issues arising from the MOD offer of a lump sum to those ladies who cannot have their War Widows’ Pension reinstated. It is proving difficult to keep track of all of these and many are repeating earlier comments. So I thought It might be helpful if I summarised the situation and the Association’s view of our progress.
Our wish has always been to have the pension reinstated. But the reality is that we will not achieve this in a short time frame. The MOD announced in May – somewhat unexpectedly – that they were making an offer of a one-off payment of £87,500, on the basis that £17,500 would be the income tax due, at the standard rate of 20%. Thereby, intending to create a payment of £70,000. They further stated that they intended to open the application process during the summer.
Firstly, it is not for the Association to accept or refuse this offer. We could still continue to campaign for reinstatement of the pension– but with little likelihood of success. Meanwhile we would be denying ladies access to much needed money. We believe that the payment of this lump sum is almost certainly the best outcome we can achieve.
Whilst the media will report other groups being given large sums of money – tax free – these payments are (in law) compensation, and are the result of governments breaking the law. The money is being paid in lieu of long and costly court cases, that the government would almost certainly lose. Unfortunately, we do not have the ‘law’ on our side – the surrender of the pension was not illegal, and thus we cannot be paid compensation. We can only argue for government to behave honourably – but we cannot compel them to.
We have highlighted – most robustly – the failings of their mathematics in calculating the tax that will be due in reality, and the consequential disruption to ladies tax arrangements. But again we cannot compel or force the government to change their plans. We can only argue for fairness and complain at the misrepresentation of the original statement.
We have not stopped campaigning on these issues relating to the payment of the lump sum – but it is not possible (or indeed advisable) to reveal all the conversations we are having on the matter.
We have been asked for our input on the process of application and we are pressing for you to be allowed to at least ‘register your interest’ at the earliest opportunity.
In simple terms – if you previously received a War Widows’ Pension but surrendered it on remarriage or cohabitation, and that marriage or relationship has not ended you will be eligible to apply for this lump sum, no matter when you received a War Widows Pension. If your marriage or relationship has ended – you should apply to have your pension reinstated. This one-off payment is ONLY for those who cannot have their pension reinstated.
We believe that the Veterans UK will be able to confirm the previous payment of a War Widow’s Pension for most applicants, with only minimum information about you and your late husband. However, if records cannot be found and more information is required we will standby to assist you as best we can in advising how you can provide the necessary evidence. But we expect this to be only for the minority of applications.
Finally, as soon as we have new information that we can share with you – we will.
But I will close in reinforcing the reality that this is a campaign of persuasion – we have no power to force the government’s hand. We cannot – to quote some comments – ‘make them’ do anything.
You can see all information on our dedicated Campaign 300 page.