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Ministers ought to cease ‘dragging their heels’ and tackle pension disparity for Gurkha veterans – Labour | Politics Information

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The federal government must cease “dragging their heels” and tackle pension disparity for some Gurkha veterans, Labour has stated.

Talking to Kay Burley, shadow armed forces minister Stephen Morgan stated it was “outrageous the inequality continues”.

A bunch of Gurkhas is staging a hunger strike opposite Downing Street, with their demonstration having now entered its fifth day.

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Starvation-striking ex-Gurkha: ‘I do not care if I die’

Mr Morgan stated he could be writing to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to induce him to “finish this injustice”.

“I feel it is outrageous that there are folks on the streets reverse Quantity 10 which can be sleeping on the market and never consuming,” he informed Sky Information.

“We have to take motion.”

Gurkhas are Nepalese-born troopers who’ve been recruited into the British military since 1815, combating most lately in Iraq, Afghanistan and the previous Yugoslavia.

The troopers had been first recruited by colonial rulers in India within the nineteenth century as a “martial race” identified for his or her bravery.

In 2009, following a marketing campaign supported by the actress Joanna Lumley, all veterans who retired earlier than 1997 with no less than 4 years of service had been allowed to settle within the UK.

In line with the Assist Our Gurkhas web site, the starvation strikers are campaigning for equal pensions for Gurkhas who retired earlier than 1997 and aren’t eligible for a full UK Armed Forces pension.

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‘Act quickly or there will not be any of us left’

Gurkhas who served from 1948 to 2007 had been members of the Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS).

This was closed in 2007 and all serving Gurkhas or those that retired after 1 July 1997 got the choice of transferring to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS).

The date 1 July 1997 is when the Gurkhas grew to become primarily based within the UK and now not categorized as a Far East-based pressure.

The GPS was primarily based on the Indian Military mannequin and was designed for Gurkhas retiring again to Nepal, the place the price of residing is way decrease than within the UK.

Nevertheless, a lot of these Gurkhas can have taken up the correct to settle within the UK following the change of coverage beneath the Labour authorities in 2009.

Sky Information contacted the Ministry of Defence to talk to a minister on air, however was informed nobody was obtainable.

An MoD spokesperson informed Sky Information on Monday: “We tremendously worth the large contribution Gurkhas make to the British Military and guarantee they’re supported with a beneficiant pension and medical care throughout retirement in Nepal.

“We’re dedicated to making sure the Gurkha Pension Scheme is sustainable and truthful alongside different UK public sector pensions.”

Pensions beneath the GPS had been elevated by between 10% and 34% in 2019, whereas £25m was invested in medical and healthcare services in Nepal for Gurkha veterans.

A public session on the most recent modifications to the scheme resulted in March and the federal government is presently contemplating the dimensions of the uplift that will probably be utilized to the pensions.

The exclusion of Gurkhas who served earlier than 1 July 1997 was challenged within the courts, with the European Courtroom of Human Rights ruling in 2016 that the transfer was “objectively and fairly justified”.

Rebecca Wilson, a barrister at Backyard Courtroom Chambers who has labored on {cases} regarding the Gurkhas, informed Sky Information there’s “nothing stopping” the federal government from legislating to provide those that retired earlier than 1997 equal pension rights.

“It may be modified and it ought to be modified,” she informed Kay Burley.

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