UK govt to increase Gurkha pensions by 10 to 34 percent
March 7, 2019 10:45 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, March 7: The United Kingdom is investing an extra £15 million to increase individual pensions to its Gurkha soldiers by between 10 percent and 34 percent. The increases will bring the average Gurkha pension to around Rs. 730,000 per year and would provide for “a good standard of living and provide better pensions over a lifetime than their British counterparts with similar service.”
In addition, the UK government has also said that it would provide an additional £25 million (Rs. 3.6 billion) to the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Nepal for health care for Gurkhas in Nepal over the next 10 years.
Gurkha pensions are one part of a much wider support package. The British government has agreed that veterans with more than four years of service discharged before 1997 can settle in the UK and receive access to welfare and medical support.
“It isn’t possible to meet the expectations of everyone. But having listened intently to veterans concerns I believe there is more we can do. So today I announce a significant uplift to Gurkha pension provision,” Mark Lancaster, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces in UK said in an article, “Announcement for Gurkhas.”
He said that unlike media reports, since 2007, any soldier joining the Gurkha Brigade had done so on the same terms and conditions as their British counterparts, including pay and pension.
Lancaster added that those enlisting before 2007 were placed on different terms of service for very good reason. “Under the 1947 Tripartite Agreement between the UK, Nepal and India, Gurkhas regiments became part of the British and Indian Armies. This agreement reflected the circumstances of the time and significantly, such terms of service were voluntarily accepted. But the fairness also worked both ways. Before 1975 British personnel serving less than 22 years received no pension.”
He added that unlike their British counterparts, the Gurkhas could claim a pension for life as soon as they completed 15 years of service and even after 1975 anyone serving less than 22 years in the British Army had to wait until 60 before receiving their pension.
“Most Gurkhas had begun to receive theirs in their 30s. Over the years Gurkha pensions have been steadily increasing, often at a much faster rate than British pensions,” he added.
The British Army has agreed to a significant increase in the numbers of recruits to be selected. Instead of the initial 320, already the biggest intake in 33 years, the Gurkha Company can now take over 400. This comes following a stark decrease in the number of people recruited by the British Army in the UK.