17 Mar 2010 8:56 AM
|Nine news today:
British expats living in Australia have branded a European court decision freezing their pension payments discriminatory and devastating.
The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that the UK government can continue to withhold inflationary adjustments to its basic state pension from 250,000 British expats in Australia.
The ruling follows an eight-year battle between the British government and UK expat pensioner organisations, including British Pensions in Australia (BPIA) and the British Australian Pensioners Association (BAPA).
BPIA chairman Jim Tilley said in a statement: 'With this ruling, the UK government will continue to discriminate against its aged pensioners based upon where they choose to retire.
'This is a devastating result and it will affect the lives of many British expat pensioners. The living standards of many will only continue to decline.'
About 500,000 UK pensioners who have moved outside of the European Union only receive the level of British government pension paid at retirement, while those who retired within the EU receive inflationary adjustments.
BAPA vice-president James Nelson said: 'By paying increases in some countries and withholding them in others, the UK government severely limits our freedom of choice regarding where we can retire.'
A statement from the court said: 'As non-residents, the applicants did not contribute to the UK economy, in particular, they paid no UK tax to offset the cost of any increase in the pension.'
The campaigners argue that they paid into the pensions system when they were working and are entitled to the same benefits as those who remained in the UK.
Bryan Clover, who works for a charity that helps supplement British expats who miss out on pension increases from the UK government, said the decision was unfair.
'Britons who have moved to places such as Canada, South Africa and Australia suddenly have found themselves with an income each year that is less and less,' said Mr Clover, director of casework at Elizabeth Finn Care.
If pensioners have moved to countries with a reciprocal arrangement - such as in the EU or US - then they receive pension increases.
But if pensioners have emigrated to countries without any such agreement, their pensions have been frozen at the level of when they moved overseas.
The decision has saved at least STG500 million ($A823.25 million) a year for the government.
There are more than a million UK pensioners living overseas - with about half of them affected by the pensions freeze.
For those who retired in the early 1970s, the pension can be as low as STG6 ($A9.88) a week.
Those who retired in the early 1980s are left on about STG30 ($A49.39) a week, and those who retired in the early 1990s get about STG50 ($A82.32) a week.
The current basic state pension is STG95.25 ($A156.83) a week.
The Department for Work and Pensions welcomed the ruling and said its first responsibility was to support pensioners in the UK.
'We note that the court has found in favour of the government,' a department spokesman told the BBC.
'We do not therefore plan to make any changes to the current arrangements, which allow for the exportability and up rating of UK state pensions.
'We will, nonetheless, study the terms of the judgment carefully to ensure that we continue to comply with our obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights.'
17 Mar 2010 10:54 AM
|Thanks for sharing this information.
That outcome sucks as many expats have contibuted income tax & national insurance for 20 plus years in the UK and not benefit a great deal from it whilst in the UK.
Interesting that it mentions expats in US are not included in this decision,but Australia is despite the fact that it is part of the commonwealth & has the British Queen as head of state.............|
17 Mar 2010 8:51 PM
|can't they receive their pensions (including increases) into a uk account and just withdraw funds that way ? Just curious..... |
17 Mar 2010 9:09 PM
|wow, so for all those who worked all their lives paying tax for the social reprobate freeloaders now get sod all increases for their hard work, all because they choose to live overseas. This also shows how stupid the UK gov is : dont they think about the care that they dont need to worry about providing. surly if they are less OAP's in the UK the gov will save milloins on this anyway. sounds like its best of both for the UK gov. pull out of serps and go private i say.|
17 Mar 2010 11:58 PM
|Ok if within EU, but not if outside, is that fair ?|
18 Mar 2010 12:22 AM
|I dont know a heap about pensions, though I probably should.... we have got a few years behind us in the UK.
Does this ruling mean we should be looking more seriously at bringing it over? When I looked into it in the past it sounded like that was fraught with pitfalls too. And what is the situation if an expat returns, I wonder? do they get their allowance plus the inflation?
Pensions do my head in.|
19 Mar 2010 4:59 AM
|This ruling only refers to the State Pension not anything you have invested in a private pension. As to what you should do with any private pension you have left behind you would need to get formal advice about that but would suggest that maybe now is not such a good time to consider moving it. Although I do know there is a tax implication if you leave it too long.|
19 Mar 2010 2:10 PM
|Hi Aussie movers - Dont use this site much at all now but life is still great in Oz. Just been having a look at this discussion, must have been on another planet up till now cos I havent heard anything about it. When we moved to Oz almost 3 years ago I contacted the pension dept and they advised me that whatever our state pension was at the time of leaving the country then we would still be entitled to that but it would never increase. Does this remain the same or have we lost of state pensions fully? - slightly worried, Sharron|
19 Mar 2010 6:25 PM
|No, you haven't lost your state pension, it means that whatever you are paid the first week you draw it will never change. That's the policy at the moment anyway.|
19 Mar 2010 6:36 PM
|Do you have to have paid taxes in the UK for a certain number of years to be eligible for a UK state pension while living in Australia?
I worked from being 18 up until leaving UK when I was 34. Will I be entitled to a state pension?
Any advice appreciated.|
19 Mar 2010 7:03 PM
|phew thats a relieve then - I was told that 3 years ago by the pension dept and never expected it to rise from what it would have been when we left the UK - sharron|
19 Mar 2010 7:12 PM
|Wont be eligible for a full state pension but it will have accumalated to something - if you ring the pensions in the UK the can give you a forec|
19 Mar 2010 9:30 PM
|When we left the UK we were given a forc|
20 Mar 2010 5:31 AM
|what would be the point in contributions if all the UK gov do is S*** on the pensioner from a great hight at the end.|
20 Mar 2010 8:08 PM
|Providing you continue paying UK pension contributions up to maximum of 30yrs you will be entitled to a full state pension applicable at the date of claim.As of 6th April this year(new tax yr) you only require 30 yrs contributions to qualify.Dont know the annual contribution UK DPW will be able to advise.|