Pension reforms disclosed in George Osbourne’s 2011 budget has sparked extreme criticism from British citizens living overseas, many of whom will not have the opportunity to benefit from the announced pension increases.
This week’s UK budget announced pension reforms for UK pensioners, who now face a raise in retirement age in line with life expectancy and a flat weekly pension of 140 GBP.
However, many UK pensioners living abroad were infuriated to hear that they will be unable to claim increases on their weekly pensions. It is estimated that there are currently more than half a million expat pensioners living in 150 countries who see their pensions frozen as soon as they start drawing them abroad as a result of a lack of social security agreement between the UK and their host country. Many of these expats have faced significant inflation since their pension payments began and are now forced to live on as little as 6 GBP per week.
Pressure group the International Consortium of British Pensioners, which has been campaigning on behalf of impacted expats for the last twenty years, voiced their dismay at the news in UK newspaper The Telegraph. In an interview spokesman for the group, John Markham, a British expat retiree living in Canada commented: “Many will cheer a £140 per week pension ‘for all’ but those planning on retiring abroad should look at the fine print of the Budget.
“Those people need to know that retiring to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many of the Commonwealth countries means that their pension will not be uprated in line with inflation and will therefore stay frozen at the rate at which you first start drawing it.
“With recent surveys showing that half of all 45-64 year olds in the UK are considering moving abroad, the government can no longer carry on ignoring this issue. It must act to address the injustice done to those pensioners who have already retired to one of the 146 ‘frozen’ countries and the many millions more planning on doing so in the future.”
Critics of the pension rules for expats living overseas argue that such British nationals have contributed to National Insurance and UK income tax throughout their working lives and should be eligible to receive a fair pension in line with their host country living costs.
In an article published earlier in March this year online news resource Inside Toronto told the story of one British expat, Rodney Travers-Griffin, who spent 20 years serving his homeland as a member of the British Royal Army Service Corps and is now considering relinquishing his war medals in protest at the British government’s failure to support his retirement. Speaking to Inside Toronto he said: “”They’re very definitely turning their back on us. It’s like a slap in the face.
“I feel abandoned and let down. We’re hoping to pressure the British government to do something.”
It is estimated that indexing pensions that are currently frozen will cost the UK government around £478 million a year; 1% of their current pensions budget.
If you would like to support the International Consortium of British Pensions, please visit their website, http://www.pension-parity-uk.com/, for details of how you can vote for UK pension reform.
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