War widows will be allowed to remarry and keep pensions under new rules

Around 3,000 lost out on military widow pensions when they remarried

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The Independent Online

Military widows will be allowed to remarry or form civil partnerships without losing their pensions from next year under new plans announced by David Cameron.

The closure of the legal loophole, which will come into force on 1 April, follows a long-running campaign by service charities ahead of Remembrance Sunday tomorrow.

Around 3,000 partners of those who served between 1973 and 2005 had stopped receiving the benefit after they remarried or cohabited, but the pension would have been reinstated if the subsequent relationship ended, armed forces rules state.

Charities petitioned against Ministry of Defence, claiming the rules made it difficult for widows to rebuild stable lives as many had sacrificed their own career to travel with their soldier partners to live in barracks stationed abroad, including the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron, who will meet forces' widows in Downing Street tomorrow, said: "This is a long-standing grievance and I think one which is very justified - people who were married to someone in the armed services and that person died and so they lost their pension if they married again.

"I think that wasn't fair and I'm delighted that because we have a strong economy we can afford to make this change and give justice to these people."

He added: "This reflects our clear commitment to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant which we enshrined in law."

The cost of the adjustment to the public purse is estimated to be around £120 million over the next 40 years.

The current minimum length of service for soldiers' partners to receive the pension after their death is two years.