HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc252-3W
Mr. S. C. Silkin

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the benefits payable to widows or other dependants of Royal Air Force aircrew, both officers and airmen, killed on flying duty.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The widow of a Royal Air Force officer or airman who has been killed on flying duty (or in any other circumstances due to service) is normally eligible for:

  1. (a) From the Ministry of Social Security, a widow's war pension under the War Pensions Scheme. This pension is normally at a higher rate than widows' benefits under the general social security schemes;
  2. (b) From Defence (Air) Votes, a gratuity and, in some circumstances, a pension. The gratuity is based on the 253 length of service completed by the husband at the date of his death and related to the type of commission or engagement on which he was serving. The pension is paid if the husband would have qualified for retired pay or pension at the time of his death.

Both the Service pension and the war pension carry additions for eligible children, and a rent allowance may be payable with the war pension.

A widow is invited to submit claims for these awards to enable her precise entitlements to be established and payment to be made with the least possible delay.

Special arrangements have been made to ensure that the widow is not left without funds during the period immediately following her husband's death. A temporary allowance, related to the husband's emoluments, is paid from Defence (Air) Votes for the first thirteen weeks without formal claim. A widow may also receive benefit for her children, and in some cases for herself, during this period from the Ministry of Social under either the War Pensions Scheme or the National Insurance Scheme.

The foregoing relates to benefits from public funds. In addition, when an officer or airman has contributed to the R.A.F. Dependants Fund a pre-nominated dependant is eligible for a grant on his death which is currently £400. Dependants may also benefit from private life insurance policies. Aircrew are advised to take out such policies and a contribution is made from Defence (Air) Votes towards the extra cost of premiums covering Service flying risks.

I am writing to my hon. Friend to give him fuller details.

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