When my first husband died, aged 46, I was initially told that I was entitled to a widow’s pension for myself and my children. My husband had paid national insurance contributions and would not now be claiming his pension. It seemed fair. My husband would have been pleased that his contributions were being used for the benefit of his children.
But not so fast. We had nursed my husband at home until he died. I could not have managed alone, but I had the help of a new partner. My new partner did not work. He had been my husband’s full time carer while I continued to work (the family still needed money). He was better at it than I was. I got too upset and distressed. The new partner meant I could not claim the widow’s pension. I could see some fairness in this, but what really annoyed and upset me was that it also meant my children were deprived of their share too. I was told by the person processing my claim they were now the responsibility of my new partner. If I was short of money (fortunately I wasn’t) I could put in a claim for means tested benefits.
This week many politicians have been blaming absent fathers for the ills of society. Absent fathers who fail to provide financial support to their children, say some, should be compelled to pay up. As it is those who do provide support must continue to do so even if their ex-spouse remarries. Why the discrepancy? Why should the new partner of a widow be financially responsible for his predecessor’s children, but not the new partner of a divorcee?
If a deceased father has made the appropriate contributions to the state pension why should the state be allowed to withhold payments due to his young children just because his widow finds another partner? Are bereaved children less worthy or less needy than those whose parents have separated? The amount of the pension would not have supported my children, not by a very, very long way and I was fortunate enough not to need it. But the same cannot be said of all widows. The state is applying double standards. Money, not children, is its main priority.