Make Uprating Expat State Pension A Poll Pledge, Urges MP

Outgoing Pension Minister Richard Harrington has ruined the hopes of thousands of expats still hoping that the government will uprate their state pensions.

In a Westminster speech on the eve of the dissolution of Parliament in the run up to General Election 2017, Harrington reaffirmed government policy.

He told MPs quizzing him over expat state pensions that the cost of index-linking every state pension was too expensive to consider.

“The government’s position remains consistent with that of every government for the past 70 years,” he said.

Minister repeats policy

“The annual costs of changing the long-standing policy will soon be an extra £500 million, which the government believes cannot be justified.

“The rules governing the uprating of pensions are straightforward, widely publicised and have been the same for many years.”

However, MPs Peter Bottomley and Roger Gale, who have been long-term supporters of a campaign to win cost of living increases for the state pension wherever an expat lives.

Under current rules, only expats in the European Economic Area – the European Union plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland – and countries with a reciprocal state benefits agreement with Britain have a state pension inflation-linked rise every year.

In all other countries, the state pension is frozen at the amount of the first payment.

Unfair deal for expats

Many Commonwealth countries which are favoured destinations for retiring expats, such as Australia and Canada, do not pick up the increased pensions.

“We are proud to live in a country that has a reputation for fairness and non-discrimination. There is an injustice, and the minister knows that,” said Gale.

“To say that the situation has been widely publicised and that it has been the same for many years does not make it right. It has been wrong for many years, under successive administrations. It will go on being wrong, and people like me and my colleagues will carry on until we get a resolution.”

Gale also called for Prime Minister Theresa May to include uprating state pensions for expats in the Conservative Manifesto for the General Election on June 8.

“Doing so would resolve the issue on relatively modest terms and 500,000 British expats around the world would sleep more soundly,” he said.

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