Forces Pension Society

Tarsh worked with the Forces Pension Society from 2008 until 2015, raising the profile of the Society, as part of a successful turnaround strategy led by Major General John Moore-Bick, which reversed a membership decline and supporting an even more successful campaign to change the rules that required forces widows to give up their forces pension if they wished to re-marry or to live with a new man.

 Profile-raising activities included creation of a database of all major specialist Forces publications and defence correspondents in the national media and communicating with them regularly on various pension-related issues which ranged from explaining (and objecting to) new government rules covering the indexation of pension benefits to the pension implications of getting divorced. A partnership was forged with the leading title read by veterans retiring from the Services whereby a double page feature article on military pensions appeared every month and it soon became one of the consistently best-read sections of the magazine.

The campaign to change the rules on widows’ pensions included parliamentary lobbying, taking a delegation to 10 Downing Street, placing a letter in the Times signed by ‘top brass’, building a library of case studies on widows who could not afford to remarry, who were thus condemned to a solitary old age, and classic press relations, generating coverage in national media and on TV for the cause. A significant turning point came in the campaign after one behind-the-scenes lobbying initiative was rebuffed by the Veterans Minister and Tarsh drafted an explanatory press release with the headline “Government Gives Forces Widows a Slap in the Face for Christmas”. Soon afterwards, dialogue was restored, directly with the Prime Minister this time, eventually resulting in effective abolition of the contentious rule.

Major General John Moore-Bick interviewed in Downing Street

David Tarsh explains the Forces Pension Society's victory on widows' pension for life.