Campaigning is at the heart of what the Society does. We are a watchdog, always on the lookout for things that are wrong in the operation of the pension system – for unfairness, inconsistency, or mistakes. We want to ensure first, that the rules are correctly applied and second, that where the rules produce outcomes that seem unfair they are challenged and if necessary changed.
When we discover something that is not right we put pressure on the Ministry of Defence or other arms of government and fight to bring about change. Sometimes we do this in public and sometimes we do this behind the scenes. Probably the Society’s single biggest campaigning success was in 2014, when we fought the government to change the rules relating to the widows of service pensioners who subsequently remarried – it used to be that they gave up their widow’s pension on remarriage; but following our campaign, as from April 2015, they were permitted to retain their pension. This was a very significant victory.
In the last few months we have had a number of very successful campaigns
- we pointed out to the MoD that the letters sent notifying scheme members of their tax position relating to annual allowance were incorrect: these letters were immediately withdrawn and reissued.
- we discovered that pensions paid as from 1 April 2016 to WO1s under the 1975 scheme were too low, as they were based on an incorrect pension code. We pressed the MoD on this, and as a result the pensions were recalculated and arrears paid in full. This benefited about 700 people
- we discovered that the Short-Term Family Pension which had been paid under the 1975 scheme to widows for the first of three or six months after their bereavement had been stopped as from 2015. We took this up with the Ministry of Defence and it was reinstated.
We are constantly on the lookout for issues of this nature. We know “how the system works” and where to put pressure on the powers that be. Sometimes these cases come to our attention because we see them when we deal with our Members’ problems; but where we are successful in bringing about change this does not apply just to our Members, but to everyone in the Armed Forces on the pension scheme concerned.