War widow campaigners slam British PM

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Campaigners for British war widows Friday attacked Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government for introducing rule changes they claim will punish wives of dead servicemen.

Chairman of the Forces Pension Society Michael Moore, in a letter to the Times newspaper, urged the British leader to rethink the way that widows' pensions and benefit repayments were being cut.

"It is so easy for Mr Cameron to extol the armed forces at every opportunity, and he will probably do so on Remembrance Sunday, but his words have a hollow ring unless he addresses these issues personally," Moore wrote.

"His ministers do not understand, show no inclination of wanting to do so and appear to be rendered impotent and mesmerised by the treasury."

At the root of campaigners' anger is the decision, announced by finance minister George Osborne, to peg all public sector pensions to the consumer price index (CPI) instead of the retail price index (RPI).

The CPI, a measure of inflation based on a basket of consumer goods, is historically lower than the RPI, which is based on the cost of retail goods and services.

The Forces Pension Society calculated that the change in rules would mean a 34-year-old widow of a staff sergeant killed in action would miss out on almost 750,000 pounds (1.2 million dollars, 887,000 euros) over her lifetime.

They also claim that a corporal losing both his legs in a bomb blast would lose around 500,000 pounds over his life under the changes.

© 2010 AFP

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