SEE VIDEO: Euro MP backs pension campaign in meeting with veterans
Charity officials have urged the government to scrap a rule which has left many military veterans having to pay for social care.
Under current rules, any serviceman who was injured before April 2005 faces the prospect of having to pay for their care from their war pensions, while personnel injured after that date do not.
The Royal British Legion has launched a campaign called Insult to Injury in a bid to end the distinction, which is estimated to affect around 2,000 servicemen in Norfolk alone and 100,000 nationwide.
And they have won the support of Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who met veterans at the Royal British Legion club in King’s Lynn today.
He has called on local authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to review their positions and is seeking the backing of local MPs to help persuade ministers to give councils the cash needed to scrap the rule.
He said: “Because of the brave sacrifices made by our distinguished veterans in Norfolk, the world is a safer place.
“It is quite right that they should not be charged for the social care they need due to injuries they sustained fighting to keep each and every one of us safe.
“I was born during a time when Europe had experienced two World War’s and one of the founding ideas of the European Union was to prevent such killing and destruction ever happening again.
“The veterans I met in King’s Lynn today are living proof of why the European Union was formed and I am humbled to represent them.”
Major William Kerr, chairman of Norfolk’s Royal British Legion, said one Norfolk veteran had to resign from the chairmanship of his local branch because of care costs, which were around 40 per cent of his weekly pension.
But he fears some could be charged much more under the current rules.
He said: “It’s completely unfair. We’re looking for parity. We’re looking for fairness in everything and we’re not getting fairness on this.”
Norfolk County Council officials say a report examining the issue will go before its members next month.
But a spokesman added: “The recurring cost of making the proposed change is about £400,000 a year, so this will need to be carefully considered by all members, given that we need to save many millions of pounds as government funding to local authorities is cut.”