Fight for UK expat pension parity taken up by The Times

Published:  3 Jun at 6 PM
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Financial planning for expat retirement overseas is tricky at the best of times, but for those choosing a destination where the UK state pension is frozen, it often proves one issue too many.

A recent article in the Times newspaper tells it like it is for more than 500,000 British pensioners living in countries without reciprocal agreements with the UK government. The writer of the article, David Budworth, found during his research that the words ‘offensive’ and ‘appalling’ were used often, along with other less printable comments.

The vast majority of retired pensioners living overseas have paid in for their state pension over their entire working lives, and many were not aware when they chose their new country that their entitlement would count for so little with those who run the UK. Government after government has conveniently shelved the debate, according to Budworth, leaving expat pensioners who chose the ‘wrong’ country poorer and less able to cope with inflation year after year.

In 2007, Lib Dem MP Steve Webb brought an early day motion citing the unfairness of the system and asking for its end. However, earlier this year after his promotion to Pensions Minister, Webb shamefully backtracked, saying that the government will not relax the current restrictions.

The choice of countries where the annual state pension increase is paid seems totally illogical, as with the Caribbean, in which Jamaica, Bermuda and Barbados expats receive increases while the rest do not. Expats in the USA receive upgrades –those in Canada and Australia do not, although both are Commonwealth countries.

A statement by Webb in 2004 reads ‘should we penalise those who retire overseas to be with their children, or should we tell them that they’ve worked hard all their lives and are welcome to take their full pensions with the government’s blessing?’. Perhaps our representatives’ attitude towards UK citizens is the reason why so many Brits can’t wait to leave.
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