Gurkha Welfare Inquiry session 9th April 2014 1000-1200
In this session the APPG heard from Mr Brian Staley the Chairman of the Gurkha Peace Foundation. He explained that the Gurkha justice campaign is apolitical and focused on achieving parity for Gurkhas. He stated that he wanted to see a declaration of human rights for the Gurkhas which would address the various issues facing their community.
Mr Staley explained that many Gurkha veterans in Nepal are receiving no pension having been made redundant following World War 2; whilst others are struggling to survive on the small pensions they receive and so immigrate to the UK from Nepal. Therefore by increasing their pensions the UK Government could reduce the cost in welfare benefits. They estimated that the cost to the UK Government of each Gurkha family in benefits is £2,500.
The APPG then heard from various witnesses who outlined a number of issues including pre-1997 service not being counted as equal to post-1997 service in determining their pensions, that the cost of living in Nepal is marginally lower than it is in the UK in regards to food prices, national insurance was paid in bulk directly by the MOD leaving many veterans with little or no state pension, visa costs being too expensive to afford, citizenship and unequal access to healthcare. The APPG also heard from a student who explained that she was not eligible for a student finance loan due to her not having resided in the UK for 3 years. However, the reason she couldn’t reside in the UK prior to this was due to the rules on settlement changing only recently for Gurkhas. Mr Staley estimated that around 50-100 others may be in similar circumstances.
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