Frozen pensions force repatriation on UK expats overseas

Published:  30 Nov at 6 PM
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Over the past year, over two thousand retired British expats have been forced to repatriate to the UK due to their state pensions being frozen.

Official figures from Britain’s Department for Work and Pensions show several thousand British citizens who’d chosen to live overseas In retirement were forced to return to the UK due to their state pensions being frozen. Many of the returnees had lived abroad long-term and were no longer able to support themselves on the original amounts paid at the time they left the UK.

The data was released to parliament via a written answer from Pensions Minister Lord Freud to a question by an Irish member. In total, it’s estimated over half a million UK pensioners who have chosen to retire overseas, either for lifestyle reasons or to make their pensions stretch further, are now saddled with frozen pensions.

Only those UK expats living in the USA, EU member states, Israel, Jamaica and the Philippines have their pensions upgraded annually, with those in all other retirement destinations losing out. The situation has been controversial for over a decade now, causing frequent, unsuccessful calls to the UK parliament to re-examine the policy.

There seems to be no logic involved in the discriminatory manner in which the freeze is applied, with countries such as Australia and Canada with their long UK connections being excluded. After Britain leaves the European Union, it’s expected the state pensions of hundreds of thousands of UK retirees living in Europe will also be frozen.

The government’s argument against re-examining the rule is based on the supposed cost of upgrading, estimated at around 500 million GBP. However, it’s believed government economists are not factoring in the vastly increased cost of providing NHS heathcare and social benefits to elderly expats forced to repatriate to the UK, many of whom may not be in the best of health.

Campaigners for change have estimated it would be cheaper to upgrade all expat state pensions than to deal with the medical, social and financial needs of a huge influx of retirees. It’s expected the present trickle may well become a flood as the post-Brexit fall in sterling begins to bite and uncertainty over the right to remain grows.
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