Prime Minister ‘understanding’ of frozen pensions plight
British expats’ state pensions remaining frozen against inflation has been the subject of much debate amongst politicians over the years.
Brits choosing to live abroad, particularly commonwealth countries, are not eligible for pension increases in line with inflation, and have therefore received the same amounts each week for several years.
To my mind, it’s totally unjust that people who have paid into ‘the system’ all their working lives are penalised for deciding to spend their retirement abroad – as, of course, is their right.
As such, I’m pleased to see that David Cameron claims to be “sympathetic” with the predicament these expats pensioners find themselves in.
However, the injustice does stop there. The launch of the Class 3A National Insurance contributions, which will allow people who retire before 6th April 2016 to purchase additional state pension revenue, is also selling expats short.
Brits living in the 150 countries who do not receive an annual pension increase will be paying in the same amount as their contemporaries, but will not benefit from the inflation-linked rise.
So what’s being done about it?
A cross-party governmental group has been set up on behalf of the expat retirees, to ‘fight their corner’. Conservative MP for Thanet North, Sir Roger Gale, met with the Prime Minister recently with regards to lifting the ban on frozen pensions, claiming “urgent action” was needed to resolve the issue. Although Mr Cameron was said to be understanding, the group was told that no change in policy is forthcoming.
The group has however received backing from the Australian and Canadian governments, where a considerable number of British expats with frozen pensions reside. Representatives from the High Commissions of both countries claim they support the campaign to lift the ban on fixed pensions, and according to Canada’s Chris Chant, “this is a question of simple fairness.”
If the government decides not to lift the ban on frozen pensions, then I believe expats should, at the very least, be offered the opportunity of buying additional state pension income for a much lesser amount.
An estimated 560,000 expats reside in these 150 countries – a number which is rapidly growing – and to be forced to tolerate such an unfair system with regards to pensions and National Insurance contributions, I believe, is unacceptable.