British Australian Pensioner Association Inc

NEWSLETTER Number 33 Winter 2012

FOCUS ON HOPE

PRESIDENT'S REPORT by Peter Morris
A POSITIVE NOTE
On a positive note, representatives from the ICBP and a UK economic think tank have recently met with senior UK Cabinet officials who are responsible for developing policy, to convince them that the savings from NHS, Social Services and Housing far outweigh the cost of uprating all overseas pensions.
  This means that for every additional pensioner who would be encouraged to migrate to a Commonwealth country the government would make those savings. There are a significant number of potential migrants who cannot migrate because of the current frozen pensions policy. This is one of the best developments for frozen pensioners in over 25 years, in my opinion.

EDITORIAL

What is hope? Is it the hope that your numbers will come up in tattslotto? Some hopes! Or is it the hopes that are dashed when a young man is dumped by the girl? There is another kind of hope. It is the hope, the expectation, that things will improve, and that what we can do in a positive spirit will lead to our goals.

 

  The Bible describes "Abraham, who against hope believed in hope." Or again "hope maketh not ashamed". Or if you prefer a secular quote "You've gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with 'Mr Inbetween'".

COMMITMENT FROM NICK CLEGG (when in opposition)
"Please rest assured that the party’s long held commitment to challenging and rectifying the situation remains steadfast"


HOPING ON
 by Jack Stoner
When I joined the Australian British Pensioners Trust Fund  in 1985 and subsequently was elected onto the committee as Secretary by our eight founder members we optimistically thought that in view of the discriminatory aspects of the selective indexation regime that it would be a relatively easy task to convince the UK government to embrace universal indexation 

We subsequently increased our membership and redefined ourselves as  BAPA. and at that time none of us had any idea that we would still be struggling 26 years later in order to achieve pension parity.

 
But hope springs eternal and despite the adverse ruling of the ECHR we are determined to rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix and carry on the battle with the  UK government in securing our accredited pension which has been shamefully denied us.  It has been a matter of fair play and morality which has provided the impetus for us  to carry on seeking a level playing field within the expatriate pensioners arena and hopefully  we will  win the battle in the near future and  thereby eliminate  the unfair, illogical  and discriminatory  policy  we have had to endure over all of these years .

HOPE from BM

I was convinced that we had a case in the ECHR and BAPA joined in with all the other Frozen Pensioner Organisations in the case against the British Government, which failed.

The result devastated us and made us all sit back and re assess everything, but we didn’t give up. Every pensioner organisation has taken time to rethink and reorganise which is why we haven’t  sent out a newsletter recently.

We have now all come together in the ICBP and are using the most talented members of each organisation.

 

Some provide brains
Some provide organisation
Some provide money
Some provide connections
Some provide bits of all the above

But we are all working together and for the first time we have support from all UK parties in EDM 1895 which gives me HOPE.

Barbara Mather


ICBP ACTIVITIES

The government recently published a Green Paper with proposals for the future of pensions. They invited submissions, and Tony Bockman, as chairman of ICBP,  has prepared a well-written submission, which has been sent to the consultation team. You can see it at
http://www.britishpensions.org.au/ICBPResponse-to-Greenpaper-TB.htm

 

or you can log on to the BAPA web site and follow the prompts. Tony's submission concentrates on three specific issues as follows:

1. The Minister’s emphasis on Fairness.
2. Making workers feel confident that it is worth saving for the future.
3. The principle of Cost Neutrality.


BLACKPOOL SPEECH
Recently, Tony Bockman was invited to speak at the Pensioners’ Parliament in Blackpool. This event was organised by the National Pensioners’ Convention, an umbrella organisation that covers pensioner groups throughout the country. His speech gave a very good summary of the history and the immorality of the pension freezing regime. You can see it in full at

http://www.britishpensions.org.au/blackpoolspeech.htm

This speech was very well received. Among other very welcome results was publication of the full speech in the newsletter of the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance. Here is what the CSPA say in their newsletter. 

  CIVIL SERVICE PENSIONERS' ALLIANCE NEWSLETTER
Number 71 17 June  2011
Dear Colleague

BRITISH STATE PENSIONERS OVERSEAS
Please see the attached request for help from the International Consortium of British Pensioner on behalf of British Pensioners overseas whose state pensions are permanently frozen and never up-rated.
Any pressure you could bring to bear on your local MP would be greatly appreciated.
Yours sincerely
John Amos
Deputy General Secretary
Both CSPA and NPC have been long term supporters of our cause.

CHOGM
by Derrick Prance
This year's CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) is being held in my home town of Perth and it seems natural that I should attend. I have therefore applied for an entrance ticket and my hopes are that I am successful in obtaining just one of the 100 allocated to Australian residents.
Together with Dr Mal Washer MP we wrote to the Hon Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Foreign Minister asking him to have placed on CHOGM’s agenda the question of UK pensioners whose pensions are frozen.

 

 He refused saying that he considered it an unsuitable item for the Conference that is being held in October this year. As it stands now I have requested that Dr. Washer ask a PQ (Parliamentary Question) of both Kevin Rudd and another to Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard suggesting that the question be referred to the Commonwealth Secretariat and placed on the Agenda. 
Together with Mr James Tilley of BPiA we hope to meet up with Delegates from other Commonwealth countries and of course the Media to publicize our cause


CHAMPION!
ICBP have been searching for a "Champion", an Ambassador who will represent the frozen pensioner cause. Readers may remember how Joanna Lumley represented the Ghurkhas. We are heartened to announce that Sir Michael Parkinson and "Dickie" Bird have agreed to serve as ICBP Ambassadors.


PUBLIC RELATIONS
John Markham has been making regular trips from Canada to Britain to talk with our public relations firm, Champollion, about various activities and initiatives, the Blackpool speech being one of these.

ICBP commissioned two reports from economics experts, both of which have demonstrated that the cost of unfreezing our pensions is actually less than the British economy would incur if we had not emigrated. Every frozen pensioner who decides to go back  “home” in retirement places a greater burden on the taxpayer than pension uprating. We have not heard of many people returning from Australia to live in Britain, but it is not unusual for South Africa, where the government does not make such generous provision as Australia does in pensions. Nevertheless, it would pay the government to encourage pensioners to emigrate and to discourage existing pensioners from returning!

Adrian Cooper is a former Senior Economist with the Treasury, and is now Senior Economist with Oxford Economics, which produced the report mentioned above. John and Adrian met with two very senior officials. Some of the outcomes from the meeting are still confidential, but John believes they were very encouraging.

 

Among other results was the drafting of an Early Day Motion, which you can read at http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1895

 ICBP have emailed every member of the House of Commons asking them to sign this EDM, and are asking all members of the five partner organisations to write to the MP in their old constituency, asking them to sign.

The EDM asks for review of the Regulation which imposes the freezing regime.

Regulation 3 is part of a miscellaneous collection of regulations passed every year. The other regulations in this collection grant additions to benefits of various types. Regulation 3 is alone in reducing benefits by the simple technique of depriving us of our yearly uprating.

In the past we have tried unsuccessfully to have Regulation 3 annulled. This year a group of MPs is seeking to have the regulation 3 reviewed and thus treat all British pensioners with the dignity and fairness that they deserve.


EARLY DAY MOTIONS

In one rather cynical definition of EDMs, we read "In the House of Commons, a motion put down by a back-bench MP nominally for discussion ‘at an early day’ but with no time fixed for it. As the parliamentary timetable is controlled by the leadership of the parties, Early Day Motions are almost never actually debated. They may be regarded as pure expressive gestures, as cheap talk in which an MP can strike attitudes at no cost, or as a serious basis for classifying MPs' ideologies."

By convention, ministers and shadow ministers do not sign EDMs. However, EDM 1895 has the approval of a senior minister.

But here is an extract from an encouraging email received by one of our activists.

"I fully understand your concerns on this issue and am very aware of the financial pressures created by a ‘frozen pension’ in this tough economic climate. In support of this cause I have signed EDM 1895 and through my place on the Work and Pensions Select committee I will do all I can to ensure that pension provision is made fair and equal for all."

 

Let's make a big effort and use all the arguments, all the reasons, all our powers of persuasion. Here are some of the supporting arguments.

  1. Although the Courts, in dismissing the Carson case, said that it was perfectly legal for the UK government to freeze our pensioners, we all know that it is not fair and just.
  2. To unfreeze our pensions would not cost an enormous amount of money, less than 1% of the annual pensions bill, and an even smaller percentage if you include the extra benefits which resident pensioners enjoy and which we do not claim. In fact the cost of these extra benefits exceeds the cost of abolishing the freezing regime.
  3. The National Pensioners' Convention, representing pensioners who still live in the UK, supported us in their manifesto, and still support us now.
  4. The Civil Service Pension Alliance and some trade unions support our cause.
  5. It would not need an Act of Parliament, nor even a series of reciprocal agreements, to end the freezing regime. All that would be needed would be to annul the annual freezing regulations tabled in Parliament in March each year.

FUNDS

This year we have contributed 30K Sterling to the fight which is small in comparison to other members of the ICBP but we have a much smaller membership and I am asking members to please contribute as much as they can afford

As treasurer I am concerned that we are spending far too much on postage just sending receipts to members and feel this money could be more productive sending funds to the ICBP and I am now proposing that we do not issue receipts for contributions under $50 unless requested.

All members of the BAPA committee work for free

To make contributions or apply to be on our mailing list, print out a copy of the mailing list form.

Barbara Mather, Treasurer