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The BBC's Paul Lewis
"All but a handful of local authorities ignore pensions when working out rebates"
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Saturday, 7 April, 2001, 01:31 GMT 02:31 UK
Fears for war veterans' income
War veterans
Nearly 300,000 men and women claim war pensions
The Royal British Legion is concerned that thousands of combat veterans and war widows could become worse off after a council changed its stance on war pensions.

People who became disabled while serving in the armed forces and the widows of those who died are given a war pension by the government to recognise the sacrifice they made.

Each year nearly 300,000 men and women receive a total of 1.2bn in war disablement pensions and widows' pensions.

Most local authorities do not count this money as income when they calculate concessions on rent and council tax, meaning many receive full rebates.

But councillors in Harrow, north London, have decided to end this concession to save nearly 90,000 a year.

Big income cuts

More than 50 people - most aged over 75 - will be affected in the borough, losing an average of 32 a week each.

The Royal British Legion has told the BBC that it fears other councils will follow suit, threatening big cuts in incomes for thousands of elderly war pensioners.

Pension claimants
Many claimants are aged over 75
War disablement pension can be paid to anyone who has served in the armed forces in peace or war, and now has a disability which was caused or made worse by anything that happened to them as a result of that service.

For World War II, the injury does not have to have occurred in the armed forces, as special rules apply to the period from 1939-1945.

Anyone who served in the Home Guard, the Auxiliary Nursing Corps, the fire service and various other units can claim for injuries as if they had been in the forces.

Anyone involved in civil defence who suffered an injury in the course of their duties can also claim.

A woman married to a man who gets a war disablement pension can claim a war widow's pension if her husband's death was "attributable" to his injury.

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See also:

12 Nov 00 | Business
War Pensions: Are you eligible?
07 Nov 00 | Talking Politics
Grey army on the march
12 Nov 00 | Business
New benefits for British PoWs
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