UK Frozen Pensions Working Group Set Up

The  International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) for 8 years has followed the legal route to try to prove that the freezing of about half of expats’ pensions in certain countries, mostly in the Commonwealth, was discriminatory.  This was turned down finally in the European Court of Human Rights in March 2011. 

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Frozen Pensioners Fight On For British Fair Play

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Unfortunately there is still no satisfactory answer for those UK State pensioners whose pensions are frozen despite the inequity of this situation.

As the BBC reported on 16 March 2010, some UK expat pensioners lost their pension freeze appeal in the European Court of Human Right in Strasbourg.   The rejection considering only the legal aspects of the case was by an 11 to 6 majority.

As might be expected, the Department for Work and Pensions welcomed the ruling and said the department’s first responsibility was to support pensioners in the UK.  Despite this clear dereliction of duty, the Department in fact treats half of all expat pensioners in exactly the same way as it does those in the UK.  Emigrate to Spain and you’ll even receive a fuel supplement even though the climate would not justify that. Only when pensioners have emigrated to the Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia, etc) and a few others does the Department stick to the terms of an unjust and inequitable set of legal agreements.

All UK State pensioners have by law paid in during their working lives in order to receive a pension.  There are certainly no moral arguments that would support withholding from some of these pensioners what is their rightful due.

Given that morality and equity are on their side, these unfairly treated pensioners will continue the fight.  There are a considerable number of supporters both within the UK and in the rest of the world who want to see fair play.  The International Consortium of British Pensioners is dug in for a fight particularly as all the political parties wish to be the winners in the next election.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ own figures show that every UK resident over the age of 60 costs the UK taxpayer annually £7,000 in their share of NHS costs and benefits over and above basic and additional pensions. By providing pension parity to all, at an average annual cost per capita of £1,000, there are potential savings of billions by making emigration easier and more appealing.

The UK is the only OECD country that does not provide equal pension portability rights to all of its citizens regardless of where they decide to live in their retirement. This is not a question of cost. It is a question of modernity, logic, and above all justice. People around the world continue to wonder that British standards of morality and fair play have fallen so far.

If you want to help, then join one of the groups around the world that is fighting for equity. You can also sign an online petition demanding parity for British pensioners abroad. You don’t have to be an expat or a pensioner to sign the petition.  If you are concerned about this callous treatment of its own pensioners by the UK government, then please sign on.

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UK Frozen Pensions And The Moral Debt Of Honour

It was good news to hear that The Gurkhas won their High Court battle today for the right to settle in Britain.

The judge, Mr Justice Blake, made clear that the long military service of these men, their wounds sustained in battle. their conspicuous acts of bravery, their acts of gallantry and their commitment and loyalty to the Crown all point to an unquestionable historic “moral debt of honour” and gratitude which the ordinary people of Britain embrace and celebrate.

This was despite a petition to 10 Downing Street earlier in the year which was rejected:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Allow all Ghurkas to have the service and pension rights of the British Army and that all who have served in the British Army can stay in Britain if they choose to do so.

There is no news on the pension front for the Ghurkas but hopefully that same moral debt will be paid.

By coincidence this week I received a letter from the UK Department for Works and Pensions in response to a letter to 10 Downing Street. The two-page form letter provides only partial and very guarded responses. There is much better and more complete information on the Pension Parity UK website.

The letter concludes with the following (here slightly abridged but retaining the original sense):

You may be aware that the issue has been considered in the Courts. In May 2002 the High Court found that the Government was not in breach of the Human Rights Act. This decision confirmed the Department’s understanding that the Government is not obliged to uprate State Pensions where it has no legal obligation. An application has now been made to the European Court of Human Rights. The Court has decided to give the application priority treatment.

If Courts are now accepting historic moral debts, perhaps the answer in 2008 will be different.

Related: Paying a moral debt
Despite being lauded by hypocritical politicians, Gurkha soldiers have been treated appallingly. Now, justice may be done

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Pension Parity For UK Pensioners

It is somewhat ironic that a Google search for pension parity in the UK turns up an exchange of letters in the Times Online. Rosemary Bennett had written an article entitled We’ll have to work until we’re 70, just as it was in Lloyd George’s day. She was commenting on the 100th anniversary of the creation of the state pension on August 1, 1908. Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the architect of radical reforms in which the retirement age will rise to 68 by 2046, suggested that it will be at 70 by the end of the century. The final paragraph of the article stood in sharp contrast to this.

Anyone working for central or local government, the NHS, the police, the fire service and the associated regulators is still entitled to a generous final salary pension and most can retire at 60. Taxpayers are paying £21billion a year to fund these pensions.

A few days later, Bernard Keeffe then commented that Lloyd George’s pension would be a luxury to the modern OAP if you compare it to the general level of salaries. Stephen O’Loughlin responded that Compared to those in the 1900s, our pensions seem rather handsome. He cited the various items such as the single person pension credit, the housing and council tax benefit and the winter fuel allowance and is additionally entitled to free bus travel, prescriptions etc.

Pension Parity UK

Pension Parity UK

.. and why is this exchange on pension parity in the UK so ironic? Well that happens to be the title of a new website which has just gone online. The International Consortium Of British Pensioners (ICBP) is taking the case for pension parity to the European Court of Human Rights. It is supported internationally by a number of British State Age Pensioner Groups.

The pensioners it represents have two strikes against them. Firstly they do not benefit from all those extra credits that Stephen O’Loughlin mentioned. Secondly and much more importantly, they have non-indexed pensions which are frozen at the levels set at retirement. If these pensioners had emigrated to Europe or to the USA, they would be receiving fully indexed pensions just as if they were resident in the UK. However the pensioners represented by this website chose to emigrate to countries in the Commonwealth. There is no logic nor equity in what is happening.

These pensioners seem to be the forgotten people in the discussion on pension parity. Even recent petitions to 10 Downing Street go unanswered. A petition from Canada drew 1,518 signatures but no response. A petition from New Zealand drew 1,631 signatures but no response.

Apparently the government has no time to redress this profound inequity against basic human rights. The Pension Parity website details how you can help British Pensioners who have had their pensions frozen at rates ruling 20 years ago or more and are now in their 80’s or even 90’s, and living on a pittance. The only recourse seems to be to go outside the UK to bring international pressure. It’s certainly not one of the UK’s finest hours.

Follow-up Frozen UK Pensions – Should Legality, Equity or Morality Apply?

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Unfreezepensions – epetition reply – UK Government

The UK Government has now given its epetition reply to the online petition by British pensioners living in certain countries who sought to have their pensions indexed to inflation. The full response is in fact only a partial response as laid out. It might better have been expressed as follows:
Our priority, given the limited resources available, is to ensure that pensioners resident in the UK and in the countries listed below continue to see an increase in their living standards commensurate with the growth of the economy as a whole:
Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritius, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Sark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turkey, USA and Yugoslavia.

We can do nothing for the pensioners resident in these other countries:
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and most other Commonwealth countries.

Given the true facts, such an answer is unbelievable.

FURTHER UPDATE: If you want to keep up the pressure, and why not, sign up for another petition that Roy and Joan Brentnall have started on the same topic. After all it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

Related:
Canadians’ Pensions Frozen
Frozen Pensions Petition At Number 10
Frozen British Pensions Still On Their Way To The European Court

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Frozen British Pensions Still On Their Way To The European Court Of Human Rights

Unfreezing British pensions is simple equity.

Unfortunately one unfinished piece of business that Tony Blair could not handle before resigning was the inequitable treatment for half of the UK pensioners who have chosen to live outside the UK. Since he was on record as a staunch proponent of the need to be “even-handed, fair and just in our application of our values to the world“, it was somewhat surprising that those affected are still forced to seek equity via the European Court Of Human Rights.

For those unaware of what is happening, a short video from Australia gives a quick summary. Ron in the US gets a fully indexed UK pension while Bob in Australia does not. Listen to them as they explain the situation.
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As the latest issue of Justice For Expatriate British Pensioners (July 2007) explains, it should be a no-brainer for the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. The arguments are overwhelming:

  • All pensioners have already funded their own pensions during their working lives, but inflationary increases are blocked each year for less than 5% of these pensioners.
  • The cost of correcting this inequity would be less than 1% of the National Insurance budget.
  • The National Insurance Fund has an accumulated surplus of ?38.5 billion, more than 90 times the annual cost of correcting the inequity
  • A majority of Members of Parliament in a free vote would now support the unfreezing of these pensions.
  • Pensioners who have emigrated are a lesser charge on the UK social services system so this anomaly which forces some pensioners to stay in the UK and not join their children in certain countries is working against the UK economic interest.

Clearly Gordon Brown has a number of weighty dossiers to consider, but this no-brainer should be quickly dispatched if he has a moment. It seems so inefficient that the European Court Of Human Rights should be asked to rule on this, when there are so many more arguable cases for them to consider.

If you or any members of your family are affected by this in any way or merely want to get involved on a cause that affects so many more vulnerable members of society, then contact by e-mail the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners or its Quebec representative, Mary Kapadia. Or if you are a UK citizen, you can sign the Petition at Number 10 at the link below.

UPDATE: Unfreezepensions petition – The UK Government Responds

FURTHER UPDATE: If you want to keep up the pressure, and why not, sign up for another petition that Roy and Joan Brentnall have started on the same topic. After all it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

Related:
Frozen Pensions Petition At Number 10
Canadians’ Pensions Frozen
Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (website)

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