Letter: Widowers face hardship too

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Widowers face hardship too

Sir: I was interested to learn ("Why I should give my widow's pension back", 4 December) that Polly Toynbee was entitled to a widowed mother's allowance of pounds 123 a week. I, as a widower father with two daughters to bring up, am entitled to no such allowance.

When my wife died our net income was reduced by over pounds 300 per week and the allowance would have helped make up the deficit. Fortunately, like Ms Toynbee, I am gainfully employed and so do not have to depend on any such allowance and would be more than happy to see such resources directed to help those in real need.

However, those in real need include many men in my situation who are less well paid or, like many widows, have chosen to stay at home to look after their children. Such men provide another example of the many ways in which our society has changed since such benefits were introduced. It is an inequality that appears to have been overlooked by everyone.

Until there is equality of entitlement, we widowers will never have the option to accept or reject such a generous allowance. It would have been greatly appreciated if so eloquent and influential a widowed mother could have put in a good word for us as well.