HL Deb 08 March 2001 vol 623 cc44-5WA
Lord Morris of Manchester

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 15 February (WA 64), whether any of the five war widows referred to will have their war widow's pension restored if it is demonstrable that they are not "living with a man as his wife"; and what consultation they have had with the War Widows' Association on the provisions in the Social Security Fraud Bill that affect war widows. [HL972]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

A war widow may reclaim her war pension at any time if she ceases to be living with a man as his wife. In two of the five cases referred to, war widow's pension has been restored.

The only measures in the Social Security Fraud Bill which could directly effect war widows are the loss of benefits provisions at Clauses 7 to 13 under which those who are twice convicted of benefit fraud will lose benefit for 13 weeks.

The Government's proposal is that these measures, which are intended to deter those who cheat the benefit system from re-offending, will apply to the vast majority of social security benefits and war pensions. The Government fully accept that the level of fraud in war pensions is minimal. Nonetheless they take the view that the war pensions scheme should be given the same level of protection from the threat posed by persistent benefit cheats as the mainstream social security system.

As the measures in question are aimed solely at the small minority who abuse the benefit system, the Government took the view that consultation with bodies such as the War Widows Association which represent benefit recipients would not be appropriate.