Retired British expats living in the European Union are struggling to pay their bills rather than basking in sunshine and living a life of luxury, a Lords committee has been told.
Retired lawyer Jeremy Morgan QC – himself a British expat living in Italy – explained to the House of Lords EU justice sub-committee that most retired expats have seen their spending power drop as their pensions are paid in sterling, which has depreciated in value against the euro during Brexit negotiations.
To add to their fears over what will happen to index-linking on their state pensions after Britain withdraws from the EU, the British government has announced increasing the payments in line with the cost of living is not guaranteed if there is a no deal Brexit.
“There is real hardship. The impression sometimes given by the tabloid press is that everyone on pension age living in the EU is supping prosecco on a terrace in Tuscany or something like that,” said Morgan, who belongs to the British in Europe campaign group
“There are huge numbers of people who made a very rational decision years ago to move because they could afford to move because they could make their pension go a bit further in countries like rural France or in Spain and they are in desperate straits because of this.”
Committee chairman Lord Morris stated that resolving state pensions issues for Brexit was important for the 220,000 British pensioners in the EU.
“Britain can’t just wash its hands of its citizens abroad,” said Morgan.
State pension worries
“If Britain pays healthcare of its pensioners abroad it would cost roughly half what it would cost to come back here and be treated by the NHS.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said it would increase the state pension for UK citizens in the EU for the next three years by at least 2.5% a year under “triple-lock” arrangements.
“During this time, we plan to negotiate a new arrangement with the EU to ensure that uprating continues,” said a spokesperson.
The Lords committee is looking at the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British expats in Europe after Brexit.