A petition demanding the UK government increase state pension payments for British retirees overseas has been launched this week. At the time of writing, the petition had received almost 3,400 signatures, with a closing date of May 29, 2022. If the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government will respond and if it gathers 100,000 before its deadline, it will be considered for debate in parliament. The petition is calling for all UK expats who have paid the necessary National Insurance contributions, to receive the same state pension payments as those who reside in Britain. Under current rules, UK pensioners who move abroad will have their state pension frozen at the level it was at when they departed from Britain or first claimed their pension overseas, unless their new country of residence has an agreement with the UK. Those expats residing in Australia and Canada are amongst those negatively impacted by the current system.
What does the petition say?
The petition states: “This is entirely unjust! Why should we not get equal rights? Pensioners living abroad are less of a strain on the National Health [Service] (not using the services of GPs, emergency services etc.), in the vast majority of cases having to fund health care including care homes privately. Not receiving Winter Fuel Payment, not receiving discounted travel on public transport. Yet we are still [penalised]! It is only fair that the government treats all [its] citizens on an equal basis!” An inquiry report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions in December 2020, urged the government to provide UK pensioners living overseas with their full uprated UK state pension “as soon as possible.” According to the report, of the 510,000 UK pensioners living on a ‘frozen’ pension back then, 230,000 are based in Australia and a further 150,000 reside in Canada.
Petitions have been shown to work well to pressure the government into changing the law for expats. In May 2021, British nationals living overseas for more than 15 years will be given the right to vote in elections under new laws tabled by the government, ending a 20-year battle by 99-year-old Harry Shindler, a veteran campaigner who was backed by several online government petitions. At the time of the rule change, deVere CEO and expat campaigner, Nigel Green, said: “The vast majority of expats maintain deep ties with the UK – including financial links like UK pensions, taxes and property. As such, the policies that are implemented in Britain affect them and their families. It is absolutely right that they have their voices heard in parliament regardless of where they choose to live in the world. This scrapping of the 15-year voting rule is a major win for democracy and will be welcomed by British expats around the world.”