Any Party Backing Expat Pensioners Could Win Votes

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
By

British pensioners have voiced support for any political party willing to unfreeze frozen state pensions for expats in a new survey.

The results suggest that just over 40% of British pensioners would vote for a party willing to help expats living in 120 countries overseas where state pension payments are capped.

This results in pensioners receiving a fixed payment equal to their first state pension amount without any rises linked to the cost of living.

The poll, carried out for the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP), also revealed 60% of pensioners surveyed disagreed with the government’s stance on failing to upgrade expat state pensions  if the recipient had paid national insurance contributions and tax throughout their working life in Britain.

ICBP chairman Sheila Telford said she was pleased with the support, pointing out that the UK pensioner vote is important, especially in general elections.

Government discrimination

“The British public clearly recognise discrimination shown by successive UK governments against state pensioners who choose to live overseas,” she said.

“If the Electoral Commission’s current push to get expat voters to register is successful, marginal seats could change allegiance if enough expats vote.

“If a further push by a party determined to right the wrong of freezing state pensions happens and allows expat pensioners to vote, the result could be life-changing for half a million Brits in far-flung locations, many of whom are living on £30 a week or less.”

Around 5 million British expats live overseas and many of these communities include large numbers of over 65s receiving state pensions.

The Electoral Commission says 30,000 are registered to vote in UK elections, but is urging tens of thousands more to sign up.

Legal challenge

Those living in countries with reciprocal agreements with the UK over benefit payments receive their pensions index-linked.

These countries include European Union nations, but not many of the favourite expat retirement destinations like Australia, South Africa, Canada and some Asian states.

The ICBP has campaigned for many years to treat all expat pensioners the same by index-linking their payments, but the government has steadfastly refused to move on the matter, citing cost and the fact that state pensioners knew before they moved that their payments would be frozen.

A legal challenge went all the way to the European Courts of Justice, where the judges ruled in favour of the government, leaving no further legal avenue open for appeal.

6 thoughts on “Any Party Backing Expat Pensioners Could Win Votes”

  1. This is excellent news and nice to hear we have the support of 40% of British pensioners. But which political party is taking notice and willing to make it part of their manifesto? Too many times in the past,politicians have made promises to bring to an end this disgraceful discriminatory policy of the British Government and then, once in power, have changed their minds. We all know that the UK is trying to bring down its deficit and balance its books and that there is a cost to uprating,but surely,with sensible negotiation, an agreement can be reached. The trouble with the present Government is that it prefers to ignore the plight of frozen pensioners and hope the problem will go away. Lets hope that there is a party out there with a more open mind and an urge to do the right thing for pensioners who have paid for their pensions and deserve better treatment.

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  2. I will point out that after a Freedom of Information Request the DWP have had to admit the excuse for reciprocal agreements is just that, an excuse. No agreement is needed to pay state pensioners their rightful cost of living increases as is the case with private pension providers. It is outrageous of the UK government to blame the victims of this discrimination by saying that ‘state pensioners knew about this before they moved’. For one thing that is not true as this injustice was never discussed until recent years and was the UK’s grubby secret and even if it was true for a government to practice discrimination and profess that the victims ‘must know about it’ does not make it acceptable. An indexed pension is dictated by ones contribution record, where one lives in retirement is irrelevant.

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  3. One of the problems that faces the frozen pensioner ıs bringing this blatant discrimınation by successive governments to the attention of the public resident in the UK. It is therefore, very gratifying that the efforts of the ICBP and others are makıng some headway.

    The argument citing cost has long been shown to be false. Apart from the fact that the NI Fund is in surplus of currently around GBP 25 billion, the Judge Advocate General at the European Courts of Justice declared that “budgetary considerations are not justifıcation for objective discrimination” – a fact taken into account last year by the UK Supreme Court in ruling that the pensions of part time judges should have parity with their full time colleagues. The comparısion between the frozen and unfrozen pensioner is self evident – except, ıt seems, to the government.

    The reason the DWP is still promoting the “reciprocal agreement” red herring, citing “the cost” fallacy and the totally irrelevant and inaccurate “they knew before they left” excuses is sımply because they know there is no justificaion for this outdated policy. The pathetic and deliberately misleadıng showıng by the Minister, Steve Webb, in the House of Commons Scrutiny Commıttee discussions on the discriminatory Clause 20 of his Pension Reform Bill is more than adequate testımony to this.
    Steve Webb, of course, is the individual who claimed that even though he had wholeheartedly supported the abolition of the freezing policy when in opposition as ıt had not been a part of the 2010 LıbDem manifesto he was under no obligation to keep his word… the frozen pensioners problem is fındındıng not only an individual minişter but also a party that promotes our cause….and keeps its word!.

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  4. Even if by some way (a) no 1 a political party was to say they would give the frozen pensioners the indexing, COULD WE BELIEVE THEM?
    The past has shown that the UK political party’s are untrustworthy liars and renegade on their beliefs once voted into power.
    I say that if they want your vote LET THEM VOTE FIRST TO HAVE clause 20 removed and a new clause put into the bill to say that all people who are still to reach pension age as well as current pensioners no matter which country they decide to retire to, will always by universal law be entitled to fully indexed state pension.
    In that way we will know that it is a done deal and they cannot renegade on what they say they will do. NO DEAL NO VOTE is what we must stick to.

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  5. I asked questions through the Freedom of Information which is what the government insist is what they want. Open government working for the people that they represent which includes all citizens is admirable but when will they start ? David Cameron said that he wants ‘fairness’ for all pensioners and said it more than once but every time ignored the ex-pat pensioners and particularly the freezing policy. When approached about clause 20 in the pensions bill he said to leave things as they are apparently, so no honour there, like the Pensions Minister Steve Webb. You cannot change your mind over discrimination ! If it was discrimination yesterday, nothing can change it, not even your mind, until it is dealt with.
    It would seem that the Minister has no idea whether paying the uprating would be beneficial to the UK or not by the savings made by their not being resident in the UK because I asked that question in my “Responsible Pension Financing”.
    From the Questions and answers we can conclude that:
    1.They have not asked for any cost of NHS to support their case.
    2.They have no idea how much are the estimated costs of benefits claimed per pensioner in the UK.
    3.They have no idea how much their department spends in respect of the frozen pensioner administration.
    4. Therefore with not knowing any of the previous answers they choose to discredit the Oxford Economics report and see fit to continue this unjust discrimination without any justification. Lies do not justify this policy.
    Would this be acceptable to him if our positions were reversed ? I think not.

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  6. We have not mentioned the abandonment of the Charter of the Commonwealth which was signed last March by Her Majesty the Queen and which in part says that “We are implacably opposed to discrimination in any form”.What is it about that statement that the politicians do not understand ? Her Majesty signed on behalf of the government and they choose to ignore and embarrass her by their inaction over this totally unacceptable treatment to what is a small number of pensioners who are left to plead and beg for their rightful indexing and it shows a total lack of justice, understanding, compassion and integrity of those who defend the indefensible by not giving credible answers when questioned.

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