Reinstating widows’ pensions is the right thing to do: Foster

Date published: 16 December 2015

Finance Minister Arlene Foster today said widows’ pensions, previously halted in the Civil Service Pension Scheme, should be reinstated.

The Minister was speaking as she launched a public consultation on her proposal to make changes to the Civil Service Pension Scheme. The changes will affect remarried widows and widowers of scheme members, who worked as civil servants including prison officers, the civilian workforce of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It will mean that those widows and widowers, whose pensions were stopped if they remarried, will have them reinstated and this change will apply going forward to all such cases.

The Minister said: “Today is a crucial milestone in bringing forward these long overdue reforms. My decision to act on this issue will benefit some widows and widowers whose husbands and wives have served our community over many years, including civil servants, prison officers and also other groups such as, civilian members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. I have proposed that the Scheme will provide for the continued payment of pension in cases where affected members remarry.

“It is right and just that the spouses of those who have given so much for Northern Ireland, particularly prison officers, should continue to receive their pension, and not be penalised for living their lives.

“In the coming months, my officials will make contact with the widows and widowers from their records that may be eligible for this reinstatement.”

The proposal is for payments to be made from April 2016 onwards and would apply to all members in the future. The costs of this change will be very minimal and will be spread over many years. The costs will be met by employers.

Urging interested parties to engage with the consultation process, Arlene Foster said: “This is an important and emotive issue. I would encourage anyone who has interest in my proposed changes to make their views known, including widows and widowers impacted by the current rules, pensioner representatives groups, Trade Unions and employers.”

Further information about the consultation can be found on the DFP website.


Notes to editors: 

  1. The proposed changes seek to bring current arrangements in to line with pension arrangements introduced in 2002 for Northern Ireland Civil Servants.
  2. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance and Personnel Communications Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or Tel: 028 9081 6895. Out of Office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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