MPs join the fight for justice for those stuck on frozen state pensions

Simon Read
Pension parity 300x168 MPs join the fight for justice for those stuck on frozen state pensions

Spot the scribe! Simon Read joins MPs and pensioners at the Westminster launch of the APPG on frozen pensions

Some things seem to me to be simply a question of fairness and justice. I don’t think it’s right that more than half a million UK pensioners are being treated shabbily by the Government. On the day that the current Coalition is trumpeting the new State Top Up Pension, Ministers seem to have forgotten the estimated 565,000 pensioners who have had their pension frozen at the rate it was when they left the UK.

It’s an injustice because more than 600,000 UK pensioners who have retired to some countries get handed all the pension increases as if they were still living at home. But the other 46 per cent do not, simply because of where they live. All our pensioners should be treated the same.

Last night I attended the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions at the Houses of Parliament (see picture). Tory MP Sir Roger Gale launched the group with support from Labour MP Dame Anne Begg but there were representatives from both the Canadian and Australian governments as well as several pensioners affected by the unfair freeze.

Both Canadian and Australian governments have expressed support for the campaign but it seems UK ministers still need to be persuaded of the injustice.

All the pensioners affected want is parity. They’re not asking to be repaid all the money they’ve lost over the years by having their pensions frozen.

Passions were running high at the launch. Sir Roger Gale said: “We’re seeking parity at today’s prices – a fair deal for lot of people, many of whom are very elderly and don’t have much time left. It’s wrong to rely on foreign charity simply because our governments have failed to do the right thing.”

Dame Anna Begg said: “This is a battle which needs to be fought and won.”

Sir Peter Bottomley pitched in: “We need to change the situation from wrong to right. It’s not a matter of how, it’s a matter of when. As time goes on the wrongness and injustice increases and the issue needs to be put on the agenda of the Commonwealth Secretariat.”

Finally, Dave Morris from the International Consortium of British Pensioners, which has long campaigned on the issue, said:Because we don’t live here the government thinks nobody cares about the issue. More than half a million people are affected and they all have friends and family here in the UK. It’s absurd that Britain is the only OECD country (out of 34) that doesn’t uprate their pensions.”

The argument seems a simple one to me. We just need today’s Ministers to recognise the unfairness and do the right thing. With an election looming it’s worth reminding MPs that the issue also affects the millions of friends and family of the expat pensioners hit by the freeze. And unlike the overseas folk who don’t have the right to vote, their friends and family do!

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  • anewview

    I thought it was supposed to be the disaffected youth of today who had an unhealthy sense of entitlement?!

    Come on folks, pensions are not bank accounts. The generation claiming now are not only defenders of our nation but also ruthless exploiters and polluters (privitisation/north sea oil/house price inflation locking out younger families/sterile farmland/extirpation and extinctions/unsustainable exploitation of foreign soil/climate change) who have left a difficult legacy to deal with.

    The generation entering the job market and paying taxes today will probably never receive a pension as the coffers (both in terms of resources and accounts) of the nation have been plundered for short term gain during the last three decades.

    We all have choices with consequences (albeit this generation less than those before) so if moving away to spend money elsewhere (in many cases to enjoy a reduced cost of living) means a reduced pension then so be it, there are worse injustices which need to be prioritised given the precarious position we have left our planet in.

  • Andy Robertson-Fox

    So you feel that in the light of all the perceived failıngs of the older generation that you list (rubbısh though most of them are) it is now only right and proper to condone discrimination? And the fact that it is discrimination against just 4% of the UK vulnerable retired population world wide. Where one chooses to lıve ın retırement or the cost of living elsewhere are not relevant factors.

  • Yvonne Horak

    How much did the British Government just approve in foreign aid.? Supposed to be to the “Poorest” Countries. Yet the leaders and Governments in those “Poorer” Countries live in luxury !!

  • Jeff George

    Simon Read, thank you for carrying the baton of the the British frozen pensioner in the tremendous way that you have. Once more journalists become aware of the cruel injustice of this discriminatory policy, I hope we’ll see more informative articles like yours appearing.

    I wonder what the reactions of those so far silent writers would be – if they were to realise that the prospective target of Clause 20 of the new Pension Bill is not only the approximately 560,000 existing frozen pensioners already retired abroad, but the 60 million or so possible expat pensioners currently resident in the UK. I mean ANY UK citizen living in Britain being a likely target.

    Why else is Clause 20 worded the way it is? Why is it giving the government the power to deny state pension uprating to any UK pensioner retired anywhere in the world? EU law excepted – for the moment!

    Ever since the farce that was the Committee on the Pension Bill in July 2013, Its never been more obvious that the government has no justification whatsoever for continuing the iniquitous frozen pension policy.

    In that Committee, to put forward argument as Steve Webb did about exchange rates, inflation, whether other governments top-up, etc etc just wasn’t funny!! It really rammed it home that they couldn’t and didn’t produce one solid piece of evidence to justify the existence of the policy, and in particular Clause 20.

    The lack of evidence, and the ‘comedy’ that accompanied it, showed how desperate the government is for Clause 20 to become law. We now know that there is absolutely no justification for the continuation of Regulation 3, albeit in its new form as Clause 20. All the government’s arguments have now been shot down. As has been said more than once, there are no excuses left.

    Keeping frozen pensions have been shown to be totally uneconomical to the UK. Uprating pensions worldwide will save about £3,500 per pensioner per year. UK’s own ministers have at one time or another said it’s unfair, unjust, an anomaly, discriminatory etc, etc.

    What the government want is the ABILITY to freeze each, any and every UK citizen’s pensions if they retire abroad. This Clause does just that. It affects every British citizen who even remotely thinks about emigrating to another country. It affects that person, their children, their grandchildren, their relatives, their neighbours. In fact, everyone in the country.

    Clause 20 will give the government what they want on a platter, but can they announce those intentions to the public in the UK?

    No – they can’t – there’d be hell to play. So they need a smokescreen to hide behind, a smokescreen that draws attention from them and Clause 20 – one that keeps the public eye off what the government really want to accomplish.

    The existing frozen pensioner is that smokescreen. We are the one’s fighting Clause 20 for all we’re worth. So – in the UK public’s eye, the existing frozen pensioners are the one’s Clause 20 is aimed directly at, and not at Joe Bloggs in Fulham.

    Well the public is right – the UK frozen pensioners are fighting it, but he’s also wrong – because he’s missing the government’s other target – himself, his family; his future family; and all their relatives and friends, neighbours, neighbour’s family, etc, etc, etc…….

    So why isn’t Joe Bloggs fighting Clause 20 too???

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