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Council's cold shoulder to servicemen denied pensions

A motion to call on the government to compensate servicemen who will lose out on their pensions was turned down by Rushmoor Borough Council

Soldiers will lose out on pensions

A request to call on the government to compensate servicemen made redundant before receiving pension rights has been turned down by councillors.

Despite forces personnel losing out on pensions because of early redundancy, councillors ruled the situation is being dealt with appropriately.

Soldiers must serve 18 years before they can get their pension – around 130 soldiers look set to lose out in the UK with six families affected locally.

Putting forward the motion at Rushmoor Borough Council’s meeting on December 5, Councillor Jennifer Evans said: “Military personnel who have been made redundant just before their pension rights would become operational have suffered a grave injustice. As a result, they are losing expected resettlement income payments worth up to £200,000 each up to the age of 55.

“Other groups of public servants have unions and representatives to fight their cause, but the armed forces are denied this and rely on trust to be dealt with fairly by the nation and government.

“They accept the redundancy decisions, but cannot accept being treated so dishonourably.”

Cllr Mark Staplehurst, who served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment for 16 years, said: “Soldiers are very special people, they do a lot of things most of us would not want to do, and they suffer all sorts of things. We are talking about real people, the fact is people spend their time in the army for us and they look forward to the day they can get out and relax, but I bet you don’t know there’s a lot of ex-service men sleeping rough in your town.”

Peter Moyle, leader of the council, said members are already committed to supporting military personnel through the Rushmoor military community covenant.

The covenant builds on the borough’s strong links with the military and formed a pact between Rushmoor and the Aldershot Garrison to guarantee that service personnel and their families are not disadvantaged in accessing services and facilities.

The council had already been part the Hampshire military community covenant but created their new covenant, which was signed by Andrew Lloyd, chief executive of the council, Mr Moyle and Colonel Mike Russell, the Aldershot Garrison commander, in October.

Cllr Attika Choudhary said: “We have worked very hard to support the military and put the covenant together.

“The covenant gives higher priority to soldiers – they have quicker access to shared ownership schemes and we have links with Enterprise First, which works with soldiers to help them set up their own businesses.”

The motion, which was refused by 23 votes to 13, said: “We call upon the government and the Ministry of Defence to compensate those servicemen and women who have lost out by being made redundant close to a pension point.”

Rushmoor currently has the eighth highest number of military personnel in a local area in the country.

After the meeting, Cllr Evans said: “I was a bit disappointed and angry it didn’t go through.

“I thought it was a bit strange a military town can’t support the military.

“It’s an injustice to these people so it’s something we should take up. A lot of other councils have done the same and called upon the government so I thought we should too.”

Cllr Staplehurst said: “The councillors were forgetting the point that soldiers were being mis-represented by the government and being let down in a big way.”

 

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