Brit expats trapped in pensioner poverty due to sterling fall and frozen pensions

Published:  13 Apr at 6 PM
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Britons who decided to retire overseas and live in modest comfort with the help of their UK state pensions are now facing a poverty-stricken future as a result of the frozen pension rules and Brexit’s effect on sterling.

Living with the knowledge that one’s life savings will soon run out, one’s pension payments are shrinking due to the fall in sterling and there’s no hope of repeal for the frozen pension rule isn’t what many UK retirees expected would happen within their lifetimes. However careful their planning, the present situation will undoubtedly see their lives wrecked through no fault of their own.

One such, 93 year-old WW11 Veteran Anne Puckridge isn’t at the absolute poverty level yet, but her 2001 move to Canada was based on projections which are no longer valid. Even when the former lecturer realised her pension would be frozen, she calculated she could manage, but the recent drastic post-referendum fall in sterling has dashed her hopes. She told the Guardian newspaper the majority of her monthly income goes on accommodation, with the little left spent on food and essentials such as electricity. She’s living from day to day and using up what’s left of her life savings. Should sterling fall still further, she says, she’ll have literally nothing left.

Anne is one of around half a million UK pensioners living in countries where the frozen pension rule applies. The criterion for frozen pensions is difficult to justify as it includes former Commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand, India and Australia and excludes states with no connection to the UK such as Puerto Rico, Samoa and Macedonia. Instead of a full UK state pension, Anne receives just £75.50 per week, simply because she chose Canada in order to live closer to her daughter.

Her situation, she says, is scandalous, as she’d paid full National Insurance contributions her entire working life, including when she was working as an intelligence officer during the war. She feels trapped as she can’t afford to relocate to the UK due to property purchase and rental hikes over the years she’s been away, and rising prices in Canada are forcing her to panic about her future on a daily basis.

According to Sir Roger Gale, strong supporter of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, Anne is just one of many elderly, frail Britons in the same situation, most of whom moved to warmer, cheaper countries in order to be able to survive on their meagre UK state pensions. All their disposable income, he adds, is now locked in property they may not be able to sell if they’re forced to return to the UK post-Brexit.

Source: The Guardian
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