Expat mums unfairly penalised by UK expat pension crackdown

Published:  17 May at 6 PM
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The recently announced change in UK pension law disallowing married women’s pensions is hitting hard on stay-at-home expat mums.

Married women who have lived overseas with their husbands and never worked will be hit hard by the proposed change in pension law disallowing them from claiming a spousal pension. The change in the law is being brought in to save paying expat spousal pensions to foreign wives who have never worked or lived in the UK but is expected to hit hard on legitimate claimants.

The spousal benefit, known as the married person’s allowance, is based on the husband’s amount of National Insurance contributions. The British government is preparing to scrap the payment to all British wives living permanently overseas with their husbands, and the payment will now be made based on the wife’s National Insurance contributions, if any.

The decision is certain to penalise UK expat wives who’ve never worked as they’ve prioritised dealing with the problems of bringing up their children in a foreign country. Pensions minister Steve Webb has admitted the change will cause financial hardship for many expat families as the pension can total around £3500 a year, but insists it is in the nation’s interest.

The number of pensioners living overseas has risen by around 17 per cent over the last ten years, with the government claiming that many have chosen to marry younger foreign wives who are then entitled to the spousal allowance. No mention was made by the pensions minister to the savings on UK health services and additional retirement allowances caused by the increase in pensioner emigration.

A large number of pensioner families affected by the change and living outside the European Union are already in financial difficulties due to their pensions being frozen. Many believe the financial burden on the state of tens of thousands of pensioner couples returning home would be far greater than the cost of spousal pensions.
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