Should UK expats believe government stance on pensions triple-lock

Published:  2 Oct at 6 PM
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A major concern for retired British expats has been the possibility of the state pension triple lock being removed for those living in EU member states.

Britons who’ve retired in Europe have already felt the effects of Brexit through the shrinking value if the pound sterling, with many now worried about the possibility of losing the inflation-linked triple lock annual increase. The British state pension is infamous for its meanness when compared with other international state pension schemes, with the triple lock increasing the meagre amount annually by either the rate of inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher. Furthermore, the scheme only applies to European Economic Area countries or those which have a reciprocal agreement with the UK.

A recent announcement by work and pensions secretary Esther McVey seemed to be intended to put UK expat pensioners’ fears at rest, as it contained a pledge to retain the triple lock post-Brexit even although nothing has as yet been agreed during negotiations. McVey’s statement was given at the Conservative Party conference and was clearly an attempt to hold down expat panic, although she didn’t commit to maintaining the scheme as a whole in future as did Jeremy Corbyn last week during his policy speech at the Labour Party’s conference.

Ironically, given the Irish border Brexit chaos, many pensioners who’ve chosen retirement in the EU may have forgotten Theresa May’s initial plan to cancel the triple lock as well as means-testing the winter fuel allowance. Both plans ended with the PM being forced into an embarrassing u-turn by the DUP after it bought its way into the British parliament in order to save her job. Given May's history of u-turns, perhaps Brit pensioners in Europe shouldn’t start celebrating McVey’s announcement just yet.
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