Petition We demand that the Gurkhas receive equal pensions
We are demanding that the government treats Gurkhas fairly and pays them the same pension as other British veterans of the same rank and service. Many Gurkhas joined the Queen’s Gurkha Army believing their pension would sustain them and their families but sadly this has not been the case.
Gurkhas served the crown and British yet many Gurkhas and their widows live in poverty in the UK and their relatives are forced into modern slavery in countries like Saudi Arabia. We shouldn't treat our heroes like this. So we are demanding all Gurkha veterans are paid an equal pension to other British veterans. That includes veterans from pre-1997.
Parliament debated this topic
This topic was debated on 22 November 2021
This response was given on 19 August 2021
For most Gurkha veterans the Gurkha Pension Scheme provides a pension at least as good as, and in many cases better than, that given to their British counterparts with identical periods of service.
Read the response in full
The Government highly values the service of all members of the Armed Forces, including Gurkhas who have a long and distinguished history of Service to the UK both here and overseas.
The Government view is that the Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) is a very fair scheme and we are committed to providing Gurkha veterans with a fair pension. Gurkha pensions are different, but these differences are objectively and reasonably justified and suited to the circumstances of the time. The legal basis for Gurkha pensions has been upheld by three Judicial Reviews since 2003, including a case that went to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
It is a principle of all public sector pensions policy that improvements to pension schemes are not made retrospective. Since 2007 Gurkhas have served on the same basis as the remainder of the British Army apart from specific conditions to maintain the Brigade of Gurkhas. All serving Gurkhas on, and those who retired after, 1 July 1997 were given the option to transfer to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS). The 1 July 1997 date is significant because that is when Gurkhas ceased to be a Far East based force and became based in the UK.
For most Gurkha veterans the GPS, which closed in 2007, provides a pension at least as good as, and in many cases better than, that given to their British counterparts with identical periods of service. Under the GPS Gurkhas qualified for an immediate pension after 15 years’ service, typically in their early 30s, whereas most British personnel on the AFPS did not serve for the 22 years necessary to qualify for an immediate pension, and instead have a preserved pension payable at the age of 60, or age 65 for service after 2006. This means typically Gurkhas will have been receiving pension payments for over 25 years before most British soldiers of the same rank and length of service qualify for any payments under the AFPS.
The GPS differs from other pension schemes but provides a positive standard of living in Nepal and is objectively fair and justified, as upheld by three Judicial Reviews since 2003, including a case that went to the ECHR. The ECHR judgement, which contains further background information, is published here:
We are conscious that there are grievances held by some Gurkha veterans, but the Government does not accept that Gurkha pensions are unfair. Together with Nepali Embassy officials we have continuously engaged in dialogue with Gurkha veterans’ groups, giving them the opportunity to articulate their grievances.
The former Minister for the Armed Forces met repeatedly with Nepali Ministers and veterans groups to discuss those issues on which some veterans are still campaigning. This led to the production of the Technical Report in which Gurkha veterans’ grievances together with the UK government’s responses were articulated in one document (the Report of the Technical Committee on Gurkha Veterans) for the first time, which is available here:
In March 2019, following lengthy dialogue and the production of the Report, ministers announced increases to pensions under the Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) of between 10% and 34% above the annual inflation rise, and a new £25m investment in medical and healthcare facilities in Nepal for Gurkha veterans. That announcement is available here:
The matter was also discussed between the Prime Ministers of the UK and Nepal in June 2019, when it was confirmed that the pension arrangements raised in the dialogue with Gurkha veterans and the Government of Nepal would not be re-opened.
The government agreed to reconsider the decision on the increase to pensions made in 2019 and a public consultation sought views on how changes should be implemented for the GPS. That consultation closed earlier this year and after considering responses, ministers will make a fresh decision on the size of the uplift. A summary of responses to the consultation and the Government’s decision will be published on the Government website in due course. Information on the consultation is published here:
More information on the Gurkha Pension Scheme and related matters can be found here:
Ministry of Defence