Expat British pensioners to face more years in poverty

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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British pensioners living outside the European Union are facing a poverty-stricken 2013 as the UK government refuses to allow payment of yearly increases in the state pension.

In spite of increased pressure from overseas governments in countries such as Australia and Canada, the iniquitous rule that refuses increases to pensions paid to retirees in countries without reciprocal arrangements looks set to continue. Nearly 50 per cent of expat retirees are disallowed from receiving cost of living increases although they have paid national insurance during their entire working lives.

Director of the International Consortium of British Pensioners,John Markham, highlights 100-year-old Annie Carr, who retired to Australia in 1970 with her pension frozen at just £6.00 per week and who is now being supported by the Australian government. He adds that a huge number of overseas retirees in countries outside the EU are struggling to survive on an average of £30.00 per week.

According to a UK government spokesperson, updating frozen pensions would cost £655 million and is therefore unaffordable. However, a spokesman from Oxford Economics stated that the savings to the government on social care and health costs due to emigration at retirement age adds up to £2.3 billion a year.

He added that uprating state pensions on an annual basis would also encourage more British retirees to emigrate, thus saving the government even more money. Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith isn’t impressed by the statistics, saying that the UK state pension can only be upgraded overseas where a reciprocal agreement or legal requirement is in force.
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Comments » There are 8 comments

Andy Robertson-Fox wrote 11 years ago:

I suppose from the frozen pensioner's point of view anything other than the continued discrimination which has been perpetrated by the government of the day over the last sixty years would a major about turn. A major about turn by a Prime Minister, his deputy and the current Pensions Minister, Steve Webb who, of course, promised to end this iniquity when in opposition, but reneged on their word when put into power. The arguments that the government put forward - mainly that it is a longstanding policy of successive governments and the affordability issue - have long since been debunked. There is no legal, moral, financial or administrative justification for this policy. Iain Duncan Smith is talking through his hat if he thinks that uprating can only be paid overseas if a reciprocal agreement or legal requirement is in force. Former Pensions Minister, Stephen Twigg in 1999 and former Pensions Minister James Parnell (2007) stated in the House that it was within the power of the UK to pay uprating unilaterally; there is no need for a legal ruling or a reciprocal agreement, whatsoever. As Oliver Letwin , a Senior Cabinet Minister, has said "It (the frozen pension) is a product of history not rationality". Rather too much emphasis is being placed on the role of countries like Australia and Canada who subsidise the UK by paying supplements to their UK resident pensioners to bring them above a poverty level of income - the case of Annie Carr mentioned in the article, is an example. However, not all countries where UK pensions are frozen, make any contribution at all. The key here is that it is the individual UK citizen pensioner who is being discriminated against; the country of residence, whether it subsidises or not, is completely and utterly irrelevant. That being said, Pensions Minister Webb, is due to table his White Paper on Pension Reform soon although the actual date has been put back. Between the Second and Third Reading comes the Committee Stage at which the ICBP has, i believe , been invited to present evidence. It is to be hoped that not only will the ICBP convince government that changes to the White Paper to incorporate the abolition of the frozen pension policy are agreed but that for those whose pension will continue be paid under the existing rules they will be unfrozen - as of now! Fairness, Justice and Equality for ALL British Pensioners is a right not a privilege.

Jane Davies wrote 11 years ago:

Ian Duncan Smith is still clinging to the lie that reciprocal arrangements are needed to uprate pensioners state pensions. He knows full well this is not so. Jim Flaherty the Canadian finance minister has said the UK does not need any agreement from Canada to give UK expat pensioners the same rights as those living in other countries such as the USA. The fact is these pensioners have paid into the NI fund just the same as everybody else and to refuse to treat them the same as everybody else is shameful, it is also theft as the state pension is paid out of the fund that contains a surplus of £33 billion the money in this fund does not belong to the government it belongs to those who have paid in over a lifetime. Entitlement to a state pension with cost of living uprating depends on how much one has paid in and for how long, where one chooses to live on retirement is irrelevant.

George Morley wrote 11 years ago:

The previous comments spell out the true situation perfectly and I wonder why the UN and other organisations have not questioned the government over this bad policy where they have all signed agreements to do away with discrimination and reduce poverty throughout the world and the UK government continue to do the opposite in this particular case. So what value does the word of a goverment minister have ? Very little it seems and they are supposed to represent their citizens and fail miserably especially when dealing with the pensioners who have paid their way and most having also done their share in the defence of their country to give us all the freedom that we now enjoy, only to be denied justice in their twilight years. Indefensible and totally unjustified treatment.

Jane Davies wrote 11 years ago:

I would just pick up a point made by Andy Robertson Fox, yes Canada is one of the countries who bails out the UK by topping up the pensions of UK expats with their tax payers dollars but only after ten years of residency. In my case I retired to join family in Canada at age 57 I then applied for my state pension at age 60 only then did I discover it would be frozen, nothing mentioned about this before I relocated from the DWP, so I have to survive on a frozen pension for the full ten years. As Andy also points out many countries do not even make any top up payments. Canadian expats who live in the UK get annual uprating from the Canadian government, the UK is alone in treating it's seniors in this disgraceful way.

Jeff Chipps wrote 11 years ago:

I am in complete agreement with all of the posters here, and with the article which summarises the current UK frozen state pension situation. The predicament that frozen pensioners find themselves in has been well covered, so I see no need to elaborate further on the excellent comments made so far. The British PM David Cameron seems well pleased with his government's position on the UK state pensioners, when he said in his 2013 New Year Message, "And we did the right thing by our pensioners too, in 2012, bringing in the biggest ever increase in the state pension" The right thing?? The frozen 4% of the UK's pensioner population think quite differently Mr Cameron. Because every increase given to your unfrozen pensioners means a decrease in the standard of living for us - the frozen few who you choose to defraud, steal from, and discriminate against with impunity. We don't ask for free bus passes or free prescriptions; winter fuel allowance or housing allowance. What we ask for, and demand, is that you give us our entitlement - that we have paid for - an indexed state pension on a par with the other 96% of UK state pensioners. UK citizens in unfrozen countries get a full indexed pension - I believe we are UK citizens too!!

Brian Tranter wrote 11 years ago:

The very thought of this inequity makes me feel physically sick. I can equate this to any human atrocity imaginable. How a British Lady aged 102 can get international headlines by being a VICTIM of the British governments stance on freezing her pension is beyond belief. I read of your immigration policy and the benefits they can recieve is very hard to take, It is PURE THEFT. You freeze our pensions in the belief that you can't afford it saying it will cost you 380 million pounds per year and yet you are saving 58 billion pounds per year because we are not drawing on the NIS. In the not too distant future you are going to call on your commonwealth friends and ask their help. What do think they would say??

Brian Tranter wrote 11 years ago:

IN ENGLANDS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND. Remember the days when it used to be so?. May be green but certainly not as pleasant.Hundreds of thousands of decent british subjects, being Ex patriates and being humiliated by by the government. I use the term government loosely as it makes no difference whether it is Tory or Labour, they both treat us with complete indifference.How many BILLIONS of pounds have been saved by not indexing our pensions, How many Millions of pounds are spent by The Australian, Canadian, New Zealand & South African governments by propping up our pensions Shame on you England. YOU deserted us all when you wanted to join the E.U and now you are paying the price. So you want your ball back and don't want to play anymore. England does'nt belong to you anymore. You have completely lost control. Your Immigration policies have caused your downfall. You stand by and let them dictate what THEY want and you meekly give in to them. So much for CHOGM.It's a disgrace. The commonwealth countries were there for you during the first and second world wars and this is how you repay them for their sacrifice. What ever has happened to the British pride we once had.?

Brian Tranter wrote 11 years ago:

Dated: 22/02/2013 Dear Sir I unfortunately, belong to an organization called BPiA. “British Pensions in Australia” I say unfortunately because I really wish it didn’t exist. I wish there were a valid reason why I didn’t need to belong to this organization. I also wish that similar organizations around the world did not exist, such as Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and a few more. But they do exist and I am one of a few hundred thousand people fighting to correct an injustice perpetrated by successive British Governments who have decided to destroy the lifestyle of their loyal Ex Patriates by refusing to index their meagre pensions. E.g. We have thousands of pensioners living here in Australia who have had their lives ruined by successive British Governments I read today that David Cameron is trying to suck the Indians in with promised trade agreements. He sent William Hague to Australia who is asking us to support the British to get into the markets of Asia. Why is this so? Obvious isn’t it. The Brits want out of the European market and need to spread their trade World Wide. You are seeking to make up to your Commonwealth Friends for dropping us in 1973. No thought what so ever about your trade with your FAMILY. But being true Brits we can easily forgive. Many of us had the notion of returning back to dear olde England before we fell off the perch. For the majority this is out of the question. The reason you are in strife today is because you have lost track of the fact that the back bone of England belongs to your elderly. The people who fought during 2 world wars and the Commonwealth friends who without hesitation, helped to protect Dear Old Mother England. You weren’t even born then David Cameron, so don’t be offended if I say “Why should you care” Yet you are humiliating your elderly by attacking their pensions. You have no respect at all for the very people that educated you and supposedly set you on your political path. You claim that you can’t afford to pay the 150 Million pounds to index their pensions, yet you want to give India X Billion dollars to buy their friendship. Don’t you realize that by being ex pats we are saving you billions of pounds by not using the National health and other social security benefits. Your ability of humiliating the pensioners is beyond belief. It never ceases to amaze me that the people that ignore this problem never seem to stop and realize that, with a bit of good luck or good fortune they may possibly live to be a poor unfortunate Pensioner. So I say to the British Government. “ Bloody wake up and do the Humanitarian thing and give England back to the English” It always used to be “England’s green and pleasant land” Not “Englands green and peasant land” Brian Tranter Ex Pat, from Derby

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