"Women should not be suffering in retirement for their loyal service alongside their husbands overseas."
A scheme designed to protect the state pensions of military wives has failed to reach more than four in five of its target group, according to a Freedom of Information reply from HMRC obtained by Royal London.
In 2016 the Government introduced a new system of National Insurance credits designed to help women who spent time overseas as a result of their husbands’ military service. During this period they would not have been making National Insurance Contributions which would have damaged their state pension. In order to recognise the service given by these women they can now claim a credit for any week when they were outside the UK alongside their husband.
When the scheme was launched, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon claimed that the credits could benefit ‘up to 20,000’ wives, but the FOI reply shows that just 3,765 women have so far applied for the credit, suggesting that more than four in five eligible wives are missing out.
The mutual insurer has warned that each woman who misses out could lose around £30,000 in state pension through their retirement, with a total loss amongst all the women affected running into hundreds of millions of pounds.
Steve Webb, former pensions minister and Director of Policy at Royal London, is now calling for urgent government action to make sure that service wives get the help they are entitled to.
Steve Webb said: "This is a very good scheme to recognise the service of military wives over the years, but the take-up so far has been very poor. Women should not be suffering in retirement for their loyal service alongside their husbands overseas. The Government should not simply wait for people to claim but should actively identify those who might be eligible and make sure that they get the money that they are entitled to."