Gurkha veterans lose pensions parity fight

Gurkhas parade in Whitehall. Credit: PA

Gurkha veterans have lost their fight to win pensions parity with their non-Gurkha British counterparts.

Historically Gurkhas had a different pension scheme from other soldiers in the British Army, with pensions a third or half of their non-Gurkha counterparts.

Pensions were lower as they were linked to the cost of living in Nepal (only Nepali nationals can become Gurkhas) as it was assumed that Gurkhas would retire there after their service.

Changes in 1997 brought their pensions in line with those of other soldiers when the Brigade's home base was moved to the UK and in 2009 they were permitted to apply for resettlement in the UK.

In 2007 they could transfer their pension schemes from the Gurkha pension scheme to that of the regular Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

The complaint was brought by two retired Gurkha soldiers and an NGO who complained that their pension entitlement had been less favourable due to their service pre-1997.

While the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Gurkhas had been treated differently in terms of pension entitlement, they said that by 2007 they were in a similar situation to other soldiers.

Due to this the Court ruled that any difference in treatment on grounds of nationality had been justified, and the cut-off point of July 1, 1997, was not arbitrary as it represented the transfer of the Gurkhas' home base to the UK.