- Thursday, 31 May 2012
To mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee the International Consortium of British Pensioners have coordinated an open letter to Her Majesty on the effect frozen pensions are having on Commonwealth citizens.
The letter has been co-signed by figures from a range of organisations interested in older people, veterans and ethnic minorities.
- Rob Berkeley – Director, Runnymede Trust
- Tony Bockman – Chair, International Consortium of British Pensioners
- Frank Cooper – President, National Pensioners Convention
- Mervyn Kohler – Special Advisor, Age UK
- Wilf Sullivan – Race Equality Officer, Trade Union Congress
- John Sykes – Chairman, Equality for Veterans Association
The British State Pension is frozen without uprating for over half a million recipients living in over 120 countries worldwide, including most of the countries of the Commonwealth. People retiring to the EU or USA will receive their full state pension, but those retiring to popular destinations such as Australia, Canada and India have the real value of their pension eroded year after year. In the most extreme cases this leaves pensioners in their 90s receiving only £6 a week.
By forcing people to return home from where they have retired, or putting people off from leaving Britain to their retirement location of choice the frozen pensions policy interferes with movement between Commonwealth countries. This affects people born in the UK, and people born in frozen countries who contributed their working lives to Britain and want to retire at home. Polling for the ICBP shows that half of 45-64 year olds would consider retiring abroad.
John Markham, UK Parliamentary Director of the International Consortium of British Pensioners said:
“The frozen pensions policy unfairly discriminates between people depending on where they choose to retire. If you retire to the EU or the USA you will be able to enjoy your pension in full, but if you retire to most of the Commonwealth countries you will lose out. As we celebrate Her Majesty’s decades of service to the Commonwealth we hope that equal treatment for her subjects is in reach.”
The full text of the letter is as follows:
As citizens of the Commonwealth we congratulate you on your Diamond Jubilee and offer our gratitude for your decades of devoted service. Your reign has seen unparalleled change in the nations of the Commonwealth; advances in technology mean that more people than ever before travel between the nations of the Commonwealth for leisure, for work and to be with their families. These links strengthen our unique family of nations.
An increasing number of retired people from the United Kingdom, or who have spent their working lives in the United Kingdom, live elsewhere in the Commonwealth. For some it’s because their careers took them abroad, others move to be closer to their families or to return to their country of birth. At present Your Majesty’s Government freezes the Basic State Pension for recipients who move from the United Kingdom to Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan and most other Commonwealth countries including those in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Over half a million people receive pensions which lose value each year as the cost of living rises, leaving them with less and less to live on. This traps older people in poverty and forces many of them to move back to Britain. Half of middle aged people in the UK are considering moving abroad when they retire, but the prospect of a frozen pension puts many of them off, thus limiting their choices. This also affects people from other Commonwealth countries who have spent their working lives in the UK and want to retire to the country of their birth.
As well as limiting individual’s enjoyment of their well-deserved retirement, this policy impinges on travel between Commonwealth countries and weakens the ties between them.
Your Majesty, we hope that in your Diamond Jubilee year that progress can be made to end this unfortunate situation and ensure that all Commonwealth pensioners receive the pension they deserve.
Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servants.
Rob Berkeley – Director, Runnymede Trust
Tony Bockman – Chair, International Consortium of British Pensioners
Frank Cooper – President, National Pensioners' Convention
Mervyn Kohler – Special Advisor, Age UK
Wilf Sullivan – Race Equality Officer, TUC
John Sykes – Chairman, Equality for Veterans Association
The ICBP have recently launched a new website with case studies, information on the campaign and an explanatory video.
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