1,000 signatures reached
To: The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Stop Freezing Overseas State Pensions
Please withdraw the "Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2016", currently before parliament, that will otherwise exclude 550,000 British pensioners living overseas from receiving an inflationary adjustment to their State Pension.
And take action to end the injustice of frozen overseas State Pensions going forward.
Why is this important?
The continued exclusion of overseas pensioners from up-rating adjustments to their State Pensions means that the real terms incomes of those affected falls year-on-year.
Over time this leads to hardship, poverty, loss of independence and loneliness. Some individuals have been forced to return to the UK, away from loved ones, just to get by.
This policy also creates a barrier to pensioner emigration from the UK, as the prospect of a frozen pension means that many feel they simply couldn't afford to do so. Given the countries involved are largely in the Commonwealth, those in British Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are disproportionately impacted.
There is no dispute about the entitlement to receive a State Pension overseas. All British pensioners who have made the required NI contributions during their working life are eligible. The issue at stake is whether that pension is universally uprated or not.
At the moment, the government's policy is inconsistent and unfair, with half British pensioners abroad getting up-rated and the other half excluded. This creates crazy anomalies i.e. uprating in the USA, frozen pensions in Canada.
It is time for reform to give all pensioners the full state pension they deserve, wherever they live, and to end this injustice once and for all.
A positive, and easily affordable, step forward would be for the Government to include all pensioners in the 2.7% State Pension up-rating to be granted this year, by withdrawing the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2016 currently before parliament.
Former college lecturer Anne Puckridge, now 91, lived and worked in the UK all her working life, paying mandatory NI contributions throughout this time. In 2002, aged 77 she finally retired and decided to move to Canada to be with her daughter and grandchildren who had moved to Calgary in the 1990s.
Fourteen years on, Anne, who served as an intelligence officer in the Women’s Royal Navy in the Second World War, is struggling to live on the frozen £75.50 a week rate, she was entitled to when she moved abroad.
Anne now feels that she will be forced to move back to Britain, because her pension will no longer cover day to day expenses and she is increasingly reliant on her daughter to get by.
“It’s the small things, and the injustice, that is really getting to me. I value my independence, but I can’t go on living on the breadline and I don’t want to inflict this on my family. As well as ever-increasingly poverty, I feel a sense of stress and shame, which is affecting my health.”
Abhik Bonnerjee, now 73, moved from India to Glasgow in 1960. He worked in the UK for 38 years, in shipbuilding, steel manufacture and the food industry. He owned an Indian restaurant for 6 years.
Abhik returned to India in 1997 and reached the State Pension retirement age in 2008 when it was paid at £87.30 a week. Having made all the required NI contributions, if Abhik still in the UK today he would get £115.95, 28% more.
The decline in his real terms income has left Abhik concerned about losing his home. He now feels he may have to move back to the UK.
“The current situation makes me very, very angry. The government are scaremongering… [The Minister] says it will cost a lot of money but it is only a tiny percentage [of the pensions budget]. The government should be doing more, especially for Commonwealth countries and MPs can’t explain why they are not.”
Rita Young, 78, lives in Peterborough in the UK. She retired in 2002, aged 67, having enjoyed a long career in market research and as a community volunteer.
Rita’s son moved to work in Australia some time ago and now has a family there. Since being widowed Rita has wanted to join her son and grandchildren in Australia, but has felt unable to do so due to the prospect of a frozen pension.
As she gets older Rita finds daily life increasingly difficult, especially as she doesn’t have a family around who she can call on. She is deeply saddened that she is not able to be with her family during the later stages of her life, and feels that it is a complete injustice that had her son moved to a different country (e.g. France or the USA) she would be able join him with a full UK pension.
Rita has spoken at the National Pensioners Convention about the issue and is very active in her community.
“I worked and contributed to my State Pension all my life. It doesn't seem fair that the government can just stop uprating it because I want to be with my family.”
Geoff Amatt from Abergele in Wales reached 100 last year. Geoff contributed to the UK economy all his life and fought for his country during the Second World War.
Geoff’s daughter Jean emigrated to Calgary, Canada more than 40 years ago, yet Geoff was unable to follow in the knowledge that his State Pension would be frozen at the rate of leaving the country. £29 per week at the time.
As a result Geoff has been separated from his two grandchildren and two great grandchildren throughout his retirement. He has lived alone, largely dependent on the state for care, since his wife died seven years ago.
“Frozen pensions are unbelievably unfair. Canadians get their pension uprated in they live in the UK yet we don’t offer the same for those moving in the other direction. The government is keeping families apart and I worry about my father left all alone in Britain while we’re thousands of miles away.”