Plunging pound angers Brit retirees on frozen pensions

Published:  30 Nov at 6 PM
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More than half a million UK expat pensioners are suffering from the effect of the plunging pound on their frozen state pensions.

UK expats living in EU member states were told in September their state pensions would still be upgraded annually as per the ‘triple lock’ rule. The agreement covers British pensioners remaining in the EU post–Brexit a well as those in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, but no mention was made and no reprieve was given to the half a million and more pensioners living overseas. For several decades, campaigners have fought to get the frozen pensions rule abolished, with successive governments ignoring their pleas.

The post-referendum plunging pound has dealt an even more severe blow to those who’ve lived overseas since their retirement. The majority of those affected have emigrated to Commonwealth countries including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Nigel Nelson, a British expat who took early retirement and emigrated to Canada 10 years ago at the age of 55, has been living on his private pension savings and received his UK state pension last June. As prices rise and the pound continues to fall, his income will erode due to the increasing cost of living.

He’s angry because, had he decided to live just over the border in the USA, his state pension would have been index- linked, even though the USA has no ties to the UK. He knows more than most about the hardships caused by the rule as he’s a former chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners and has been leading the fight for change for years. Nelson told reporters of one British colleague who’d arrived on retirement in Canada in 1998, at which time his pension was £64.70. Almost 20 years further on, he’s still getting £24.70. Nelson calls it ‘discriminatory and immoral’, and he’s right.

According to a spokesperson for Britain’s Department of Work and Pensions, the government’s position on the rule was made some 70 years ago, and UK state pensions are only uprated overseas when a legal requirement or reciprocal agreement to do so is in place. There’s little hope that reminding the DWP and the British government of the fact that conditions in 2017 are now far removed from the reality of post-war Britain in 1947. Money shouts the loudest nowadays and, as more and more retirees choose to emigrate, less pension cash will need to be paid out.
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