New talks over frozen state pensions for Australian Expats

By |

Australian expats are hoping that high-level talks between ministers may lead to the British government unfreezing their state pension payments.

Around 250,000 Australians pick up the British state pension, but the payment is not inflation-linked and in many cases is topped up by Australian means-tested benefits that cost around £71 million..

However, Australian minister for families Jenny Macklin has issued a statement following a visit to London for a summit with UK Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

She revealed Smith has agreed Britain would open talks with Australia about the issue, even though a spokesman in London said Britain has no plans to change the policy.

Hope for expat pensioners

“All UK pensioners paid into the National Insurance Fund under the same rules, in good faith, and the Australian government believes they should be paid their pensions under the same conditions no matter where they now live,” said Macklin.

“I made my feelings on this issue clear to my UK counterpart. He’s now agreed to look at the options that have been proposed by UK pensioners in Australia – it’s a positive step forward on an important issue.”

Pension campaigners took their case to the European Courts of Justice, but lost their argument that they were unfairly treated and should have state pensions linked to inflation.

They have kept the pressure on by lobbying the British and overseas governments about the issue.

A number of proposals are before the Smith – from phasing in increased pension payments for old expats to index-linking the pensions for every country.

In total, around 500,000 expat pensioners in 100 or so countries are paid pensions pegged at the rate of the first payment – with some receiving only £7 a week, while the current rate is £104 a week.

Talks confirmed by UK

Meanwhile, expats in European Union and some other countries are paid the full state pension.

No plans are in the pipeline to change the policy, said the Department of Work and Pensions

“The UK state pension is payable worldwide, but is only uprated abroad where we have a legal requirement or reciprocal agreement,” said a spokesman.

“We will continue to speak to officials as part of a wider commitment to exchange views on a range of policies. The government has no plans to change its current arrangements for uprating pensions paid abroad.”

4 thoughts on “New talks over frozen state pensions for Australian Expats”

  1. And not before time.
    This reprehensible situation has existed for over sixty years, being rubber stamped by successive governments, who steadfastly refused to abolish it.
    Now, we have to lobby the governments of all other “Frozen” countries, to have them join OZ and present a united appeal to the current perpetrators, for an end to this illogical practice.

  2. All the Commonwealth countries need to be in on this as this injustice affects around 500,000 expats around the world. That way when someone sees fit to stop this theft of our money, yes our money makes up the NI fund, not government money, then the expats in non-Commonwealth countries will also get their rightful annual uprating. To uprate 600,000 expats and deny the rest by freezing is discrimination and to discriminate is illegal yet the UK government are allowed to get away with it…why?
    A private pension provider would not be allowed to do this based on ones address, where one chooses to live in retirement is irrelevant to being paid a pension that has been paid for with over 40 odd years of contributions

  3. The ending of the robbery by the British government is long overdue and should not have happened in the first place. However, as it did, then all past governments are guilty of what is fraud and the end should now be soon and final. The obvious time would be now when the uprating of pensions is reviewed and the increase if any is worked out for next year. If the MP’s have any conscience, integrity or sense of morality then they should immediately scrap the regulation that imposes the freezing so that this is done before the passing of the proposed increase. This should then also have the current uprated pension value applied immediately to all of the present frozen pensions.
    In the article it says :
    The UK state pension is payable worldwide but is only uprated abroad where we have a legal requirement or reciprocal agreement,” a spokesman said. This is rubbish because there is no need for an agreement of any kind but just the removal of the discriminatory regulation.
    The phasing in of the uprated pension is also a no-no and totally unacceptable. This is just as immoral as leaving it as is and with the DWP having been cheating the pensioners for over 60 years it’s time to get the Pensions Minister to put his house in order and do what others should have done before. Scrap the regulation and do it now.
    Steve Webb knows full well that this is totally wrong as he has said so many times before sitting in his current position.This is a great opportunity for him and the Prime Minister who keeps on saying that he wants fairness for all pensioners and then does nothing about this obvious theft from the most vulnerable. Just because these pensioners have been in places far removed from the UK, they have been able to fob them off with untruths about agreements etc but the truth has now come out and we have the internet to thank for that and a chance for the government to clean up their act.
    This problem will not go away until the government take it away and it must be costing a fortune to uphold. We will fight until it is done – so do it

  4. This is encouraging news although it is not yet time to start throwing caps in the air! I would have been more convinced (although i do not doubt Ms Macklin for a second) if Duncan Smith had voiced his confirmation with a projected time scale for discussions. Discussion, of course, is not necessary, There is no need for any agreements simply because it is in the hands of the UK government to scrap the policy unilaterally and pay the annual uprate world wide…at the stroke of a pen. After all, it is what they owe the frozen pensioner not any particulr country.
    Not concerned about the “government has no plans to change the policy” quote. This is standard DWP and appears on everyletter, usually totally failing to answer the question that has been asked and going off at a tangent on aspects that are not relevant. They will persist with this line until the fiftyninth minute of the eleventh hour before any change is actually announced.
    The truth is that there is no legal, moral, financial or administrative justification for this discrimination and one hopes that Ms Macklin will, while rightly looking after the interests of the Australian Tax payer (who subsidise to around £71 million a year) accept she is not only also supporting the UK pensioner in Australia (who if freezing was abolished would have over £300 million more a year in potential spending power to aid the Australian economy) but the frozen pensioners in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the Falkland Islands and…and…and the world over.


Leave a Comment