IDEAS FOR MPS TO CONSIDER
With the compliments of British Age Pensioner Alliance

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I have learned that there may be set up an APPG to have a look at the issue. In case this happens I should like to run some ideas past you, for your comment and perhaps for some other ideas.

There seems to be no point in pursuing litigation over the matter. We were beaten in the High Court and subsequent courts. Perhaps Stanley Burnton was right when he indicated it was a matter for legislation rather than litigation. The government says they have done what they are legally bound to do. So let us accept that.

During the recent debate Steve said something like that if clause 20 was deleted that would mean that new pensioners  would get annual indexation while old pensioners would not. He referred to this as "another anomaly", thus admitting that the present system gives rise to many unforeseen anomalies. So it would be preferable to abolish the freezing regime completely.

Sometimes we are told that we knew about freezing before we emigrated. This is simply not true. Many people only learned about it "on the gangplank" when they had already sold their homes and sent their possessions for shipping to the new country. Many people we have contacted in UK are surprised when they hear about pension freezing.

We don't ask for a full pension at 100% of the standard rate. We only want what we paid for. But whatever proportion we get, we should not be treated differently from pensioners in the USA or the Philippines.

UK pensioners in Australia do not get their pensions "topped up" by the Australian pension system. Steve Webb is mistaken in thinking that if the UK pension was indexed the Australian pension would be reduced by the same amount, and the pensioner would be no better off. This is simply not true. The Australian pension is means tested, but only by 50% of total income over the threshold. So if the UK pension was increased by 20, then the Australian pension would be reduced by the equivalent of 10 in $A. Of course, the exchange rate is not constant, and this has an effect on the actual amount received. Besides, new arrivals cannot even claim a pension until 10 years after they get a permanent residency visa or citizenship.

The main bugbear seems to be the cost. So let me assure you that we would not be looking for compensation by way of back-pay for the frozen pensions of the past. Had we won in litigation we might have considered that. Certainly a win at law could found such a claim. But if the government now decides to abolish freezing as a political act then we would have no basis for such a claim. The oft quoted 750 million or whatever sounds like a lot when you compare it with the average wage. But you can get it into proper perspective when you consider all the other calls on the public purse. Just recently we learned that 800 million is being lost in poor spending control by the European people. That figure is the proportion that applies to UK.

During the long years of the Conservative government following Thatcher, and the years of the Blair and Brown administration, the cost has always been the main excuse offered. Nobody seems willing to admit that unfreezing would put a burden on the NIF rather the general revenue, and the NIF is, after all, our money. This (allegedly) large sum might be an obstacle in the first year of unfreezing, but would not be a topic of debate in later years, unless the government was proposing to return to the freezing regime.