Brexit Vote Fuels QROPS Pension Fears For Expats

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

Expats are concerned about how a Brexit vote to leave the European Union would impact on their Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and state pensions, according to a new survey.

Thousands of expats have switched their UK pensions to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) and fear a Brexit would lead to a shake-up of personal pension rules which might hit their plans for retirement.

Expats are also worried that their state pensions may be frozen if Britain leaves the EU.

State pension rules allow payments to expats to rise in line with those paid in Britain if the country where the expat lives has a reciprocal agreement with the UK. All EU countries have this agreement, but what will happen in the event of a Brexit is unclear.

These pension points are part of a wider survey by international expat community Angloinfo.

Expats to vote ‘remain’

Overall 73% will vote to remain, 20% to leave and 7% have not made a decision, the research revealed.

The study found 84% of British expats will vote to remain in the Brexit referendum because they feel Britain gains economically from EU membership.

Three quarters of the remain voters argued that Britain would still have to meet rules and quotas imposed by the EU to continuing trading in the single market if the vote was to leave.

And 70% also agreed with US President Barack Obama that Britain could continue to play a leading role in world politics as an EU member, while two thirds think national security would be better if the UK remained in Europe.

Forgotten voters wield influence

Angloinfo chief operating officer James Jackson said: “This report shows how much expats are invested in the result of the Brexit vote.

“They are often forgotten by politicians in the UK, but are keen to have their say in the poll and campaigners would be wise to consider how much influence they could wield on referendum day.”

Expats told the survey the main reasons they would vote ‘leave’ were because the EU has too much influence over the UK (80%), that outside the EU, the UK could have better trade relationships with other countries (71%) and that Britain would gain economically (68%).

4 thoughts on “Brexit Vote Fuels QROPS Pension Fears For Expats”

  1. Please update your info, NO reciprocal agreements are needed for the UK to pay it’s pensioners an indexed pension. This payment has nothing to do with other countries it is purely down to the UK government who choose to withhold indexing based on nothing but a policy that discriminates and the shame is theirs alone. DWP has admitted in a Freedom of Information request number 595/2013 that these agreements are not, and never have been, necessary.

  2. Whether Brexit happens or not it will still be discrimination by UK Government for the current frozen pensioners plus more pensioners involved if the UK pull out if they do not allow them to retain the uprated pension.
    There is no valid financial reason to withhold the uprating for any pensioner in any country and the UK is losing credibility by retaining this policy and the immorality of this policy is getting to be well known around the world.
    It woll change when the politicians actually work for the people that they represent.

  3. Barones Altmann, in reply to a recent question in the House of Lords, stated that no decisions had been taken on the uprating of overseas pensions in EU countries if the referendum decison was to Leave.

    The obiıgation for the UK to index link is contained in the European Convention of Human Rights and, therfore, in EU Law and which become obsolete in that event.

    There is, as has been pointed out, no need for a reciprocal agreement to enable uprating in overseas countries anywhere but it should be born in mind that for those countries that do benefit from having such an agreement it is not legally binding and can be cancelled by either country without penalty.

    For pensioners currently living in the EU and for potential retirees contemplating retiring to one, if the State Retirement Pension is a significant aspect in your planning and budgetting, then to “Remain” would safeguard that. There ıs no such guarantee with Brexit.

    To satisfy both sides of the issue would be to end the discrimination and implement universal index linking; as Frank Field, chairman of the DWP Committee said in considering the Waspi issue – to allow early draw down would be around £900 million which a chancellor could lose in the accounts….as George Morley said in his comment there is no financial reason to withold uprating and the £580 million which would be required, Mr. Fıeld seemingly thinks, could be ‘lost’ in the accounts…….,

  4. Baroness Altmann, the Minister of Pensions, said in reply to a question that no decisions had been taken regarding the payment of State Retirement Pension uprating in the event of a vote to leave the EU. Under current regulations the index linking is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights which is incorporated into EU law. It would lose that protection under Brexit.
    As has been pointed out there is no need for any reciprocal agreement to uprate and such agreements are not legally binding anyway and either participating party can withdraw from one without penalty….as Australia did in 2001.
    It would appear that if the State Retirement Pension is a significant factor in budgetting and planning then pensioners and potential pensioners who are contemplating living in the EU might be better served by a “Remain” vote.
    Of course, either way, the abolition of the frozen pension policy and the removal of the existing discrimınation is the paramount objective.


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