Norfolk campaign for veterans’ pensions gets underway

A campaign to help veterans who have missed out on pro-rata pensions has been launched in Norfolk.

A campaign to help veterans who have missed out on pro-rata pensions has been launched in Norfolk.

The Equality for Veterans Association wants the government to award ex-regular service veterans who served in the forces between 1949 and 1975 a full pro-rata pension.

Regular veterans who served from April 1975 onwards, receive a pro-rata pension according to their service over a minimum of two years, whereas those who served their country in the period 1949 to March 1975 receive nothing unless they have served more than 22 years.

At a meeting in Norwich today, Sid West, who is deputy campaign manager for the Equality for Veterans Association, appealed for veterans in Norfolk to join the association and for the wider public to support its campaign by signing a petition which will be handed to the government.

Among those at the meeting was John Kelsey, 68, from Ludham, who joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) as an apprentice at the age of 16 in 1958 and who left in 1968.

He said: 'What I didn't appreciate until recently was that a certain amount of my pay during that time was 'abated' or deducted towards a pension. So I was contributing towards it for nine years, and I get nothing at all.'

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Terry Blades, 70, from East Harling, joined the Royal Air Force in 1958 when he was 18. He ended up as a Sergeant general fitter and wanted to sign on to do 22 years, but was told in 1973, after 15 years service, he could not.

He said: 'They demobbed you come hell or high water so you couldn't get a pension.'

Mr Blades, who went on to work for Anglian Water, said receiving a pro-rata pension for his 15 years service would have a huge impact on his life.

He said: 'It would honestly make a real difference, it's now a real tight squeeze. Even if they just came and said they couldn't pay you the back pension, but just gave us a bit of something now to help us finish our days off.'

Mr West, 73, said some veterans who served after April 1975 were not aware they were entitled to a pro-rata pension, and the association was also helping them to make back-dated claims.

In one case, the association helped a veteran to claim �38,000, of which �17,000 was deducted as tax, and he now receives �316 monthly.

Yorkshire-based Mr West, who is appealing for volunteers to help run the association's campaign in Norfolk, said: 'These pensions could mean a lot to veterans. I have had to start working again because I don't get a pension for my 17 years.'

? For more information, to join the association or download a petition, log on to www.efva.co.uk or contact Sid West on 01924 827 628, after May 25.

? Another meeting will be at 1pm on Monday, May 23, at Wenns Hotel, in Saturday Market Place, King's Lynn.

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