British expat pensioners claiming unlawful annual increases under threat by UK government

Published:  4 Jan at 6 PM
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One of the British government’s new year resolutions is likely to make 2018 a very bad year for UK expat pensioners claiming annual pension increases whilst living in ‘frozen pension’ countries.

Some 550,000 British state pensioners are living abroad, with the government now planning a crackdown on those claiming annual cost of living increases to which they are not entitled. Those proven to be claiming the winter fuel allowance whilst living in a ‘frozen pension’ country are also to be investigated. Countries where the frozen pension rule exists include most Commonwealth states as well as all Asian countries and a good few other states around the world.

According to a government source, expat retirees living in Asian states such as Thailand and Cambodia are the worst offenders, working the system by giving a friend or relative’s address in the UK in order to receive an average extra amount of around £200 annually. Expats defrauding the UK government can be identified in a number of ways, including the frequent usage of debit and credit cards in an overseas location. An application for new UK passport can reveal the owner is permanently living abroad, as copies of every page must be submitted, and many pages will show long-term visas incompatible with residency in the UK.

One UK pensioner living in Thailand was caught and heavily fined for using his mother’s UK address in order to have his pension updated. Experts estimate no more than five per cent of the total of UK expat retirees are acting illegally, although no official numbers have been published as yet. Critics of the move are stating the government should get rid of the frozen pension rule, particularly as recipients have been paying in for a full pension for their entire working lives. The government’s excuse is the overall cost of uprating all frozen pensions, but it seems to be more than happy to spend an undeclared amount on chasing those who’re claiming unlawfully.
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