Blog
Current events
With the compliments of British Age Pensioner Alliance

Link back to Home Page


An excellent point made recently by a frozen pensioner in the bapaemail news group.

It seems to me that we had no choice other than to pay increasing (indexed) NI contributions and indexed class 3 contributions throughout our working lives and afterwards. I think it a bit rich that, having required us to pay indexed contributions, the government now reneges on indexed payments!


Shailesh Vara, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, recently took refuge in the old canard that freezing of pensions has been government policy for 70 years.

A frozen pensioner wrote an excellent reply on "They Work for You"

 I just have to respond to Mr. Vara's monumentally fatuous remarks on Frozen pensions. It would seem as though just because something has been practised for a long time, makes it acceptable. If that were so Mr. Vara, you would be without your comfortable, well paid job, since every law ever written would still be in the statute, and there would be no need for a parliament. If longevity were the yardstick for continuing a practice, we would still have children in coal mines, and women would be denied a vote.

Another new EDM.

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/767

That this House believes that all pensioners have the right to dignity in retirement; notes that 550,000 British pensioners living in 122 countries overseas do not get their pension automatically uprated, but pensioners living in other countries do; regrets that, while those pensioners adversely affected have made the necessary National Insurance contributions they are denied an equal pension; further notes that these pensioners are living on effectively declining incomes, sometimes on as little as £30 per week; recognises that pensioners retiring abroad deliver considerable savings to the UK economy; further believes that this policy has a negative impact on the ability of many British citizens who might wish to retire abroad to do so; and urges the Government to consider ways to allow pensioners to receive the full pensions that they are entitled to, and to retire in dignity wherever they choose to live.


Here is the best place to go to read the new EDM.

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/363

And this is what it says:

That this House believes that all pensioners have the right to dignity in retirement; notes that 550,000 British pensioners living in 122 countries overseas do not get their pension automatically uprated, but pensioners living in other countries do; regrets that, while those pensioners adversely affected have made the necessary National Insurance contributions they are denied an equal pension; further notes that these pensioners are living on effectively declining incomes, sometimes on as little as £30 per week; recognises that pensioners retiring abroad deliver considerable savings to the UK economy; further believes that this policy has a negative impact on the ability of many British citizens who might wish to retire abroad to do so; and urges the Government to consider ways to allow pensioners to receive the full pensions that they are entitled to, and to retire in dignity wherever they choose to live.

It is time to write to your MP and ask them to sign.


One of our members wrote to the Federal Treasurer about the Australian Government's attitude to the frozen pension situation. Mr Hockey referred it to the appropriate Minister. Here is an encouraging letter our member received.

Hockey Letter


We have started a petition.

Read and sign petition, click here.

To learn more about the background to this petition, go to petition.htm

Our aim is to make the British public aware of, and sympathetic to, our cause. Please do your best to encourage your family and friends. Especially those who live in the UK. There is no upper limit to the number of signatures we want.

Here is a sample of the comments that have been left by some of the people who have already signed: comments.htm


Message from Chairman International Consortium of British Pensioners

We are now embarking on a massive letter writing campaign to all MPs in the UK. I really hope that you will help us in this.

The ICBP have already written to each of them, letting them know that we intend to make frozen pensions an issue at the next general election.

Now we need YOU to reinforce that message. The more letters and emails MPs receive, the more convinced they will be that pensions must be part of their partyís manifesto.

Please write your own letter to your UK MP ( if you live overseas, donít mention when you left the UK, just that you used to live at x address), making the following key points:

1.    1.  This will be an election issue in the upcoming General Election. You intend to ask all your friends and relatives to vote for the candidate who supports the unfreezing of the frozen pensions

2.   2.   Ask your MP to show his or her support for ending the freezing of pensions by supporting the All Party Parliamentary Group on unfreezing. They can do this by simply sending an email to appg@pensionjustice.org  confirming their support for the APPG

If you do not know who the current MP in your constituency is, you can easily find this information by going to the website:  http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ 

The address to use for a letter is:

MP name

House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

 If you do not wish to write a letter, you can also send them an email (although a letter is better). You can see a list of all MPs email contact details on this website. http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/  Just click on the MPís name.

 This campaign is extremely important to our cause. MPs pay attention when their constituents (or former constituents) write to them, if they think that there are votes involved.. If you lived in more than one constituency you can even write to more than one MP.

 Finally, when you or your friends and family do write to an MP, please let us know  to whom you addressed your letter. It is very important information for us to keep track of all MPs who support us. You can send us an email at info@britishpensions.com with the MPs name.

 Thank you for your help in this matter. This letter campaign is vital to our stategy  and we will be asking you to write  to your MP again.

 Sheila Telford

Chairman International Consortium of British Pensioners


It is reported that David Cameron is sympathetic to our cause, but apprehensive lest abolishing the freezing regime could lead to large claims for back-payment. I have written to Sir Roger Gale and Sir Peter Bottomley suggesting that they reassure the PM on this matter.

The frozen pensioner groups lost in their last ditch appeal to the Grand Chamber, on the basis that what UK did was legal. In the original Carson case no representations were made about back-pay, possibly because Carson had not been retired long enough for it to be a problem. Those who joined in the case after the HoL decision did include back-pay, but the case was still decided against us.

The ICBP and pensioner associations have indicated that they would not wish to pursue back-pay. Any attempt to sue for it would fail, because of the precedent set by the Carson case. If the pensioner groups did not pursue this, we can be sure that no individual would have the funds to launch a new case.


Questions and answers about pension freezing.

1. We sometimes see the answer that the Carson case went all the way up to the ECHR, and it was ruled that the government had not broken the law. However, it is a law that the government (or its predecessors) made. It is like the old saying that "the King can do no wrong"; if you make the law then you don't break the law, however unjust it may seem.

2. The new proposal for class A3 contributions will be of immense use to self-employed, to people with less than a lifetime of contributing, and to people who wish to boost their additional pensions. But it seems that people will pay the same contribution whether they live in an indexed country or a frozen one. This is very blatant discrimination. They should all get the same indexation.

3. If someone with a frozen pension takes up the offer, will his extra pension be frozen at the same date as his existing pension, or will it be frozen at the time he pays the A3? For example, if someone who came to Australia in 2002 pays an A3 contribution in 2014, will that extra pension be frozen at 2014 or will the freeze be backdated to 2002? Freezing his existing pension at 2002 and his new pension at 2014 would need an adjustment to DWP computer programs to record different freeze dates. Particularly important when a frozen pensioner visits Britain or returns for permanent residence.

4. Someone gave the excuse that "they don't vote". The same could be said about pensioners living in Florida.

5. Some claim that the pension is a PAYGO payment, paid from taxation and not from a fund. This is irrelevant, because that was the way Beveridge designed the scheme. All payments would be made into or out of the NIF, which would be backed and guaranteed by the taxpayer. Contributions generate a right, independently of the source of the funds.


Click  HERE to read a good article from the London Daily Telegraph. It deals with the plight of frozen pensioners who find they can no longer live on the pension they receive as emigrants and have to return to Britain to live in order to get their full pension. The example in the article deals with a lady who emigrated to Canada to be near her daughter and grandchildren. Now she has to move back to Britain to get her proper pension, and will be separated from her daughter and grandchildren by a long flight, which she could only afford occasionally.

The ICBP says this article will appear in the print edition.


It is with sadness that we report the death of a stalwart fighter for our cause. David Waterhouse died in early January just before his 89th birthday. David was previously web manager and designer of the BAPA web site. He also filled several positions on the old BAPA committee: Treasurer, Membership Secretary, News Letter Editor.

We have sent condolences to his widow, Joy. Both have lived in an aged care facility for a few years.


I learned that there could be an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) set up to consider the whole question of frozen pensions. My ideas came to fruition when I had an email from a Labour MP who actually supports our cause.

Here you will find my ideas that may be worth looking at. I would welcome your ideas. appg.htm

Contact me info@britishpensions.org.au


A letter in the Financial Times, written by John Markham, argued our cause very well. It was much the same as a letter written to all MPs by the ICBP.

Dian Elvin, now resident in UK but still fighting our cause writes:

I sent a reply to the FT. The letter appears in the newspaper today (Saturday 9 Nov) and is given the top space in the letter section.

I wrote:

It's a very good letter. This country and all its political parties should be ashamed of themselves. There is no intelligent or logical reason why a pensioner, who has paid insurance dues regularly in advance, should be denied the pension plus annual cost of living additions on retirement. The employer also paid in advance and both payments were compulsory. Why on earth do cost of living additions depend upon the country where our pensioners decide to retire? There is in fact no need for a reciprocal agreement. This is just a convenient excuse, used to duck out of an agreed pension payment to 50% of our own pensioners retiring abroad, including, as John Markham points out, our own surviving war veterans. The payment into the National Insurance Fund is, just that: insurance for a small, annually increased, income for old age. No other insurance company would be allowed to get away with this behaviour. May the up-coming Pension Debate in the Lords finally put an end to the shameful rule which has blighted the lives of a fraction of our old people for decades, and will continue if it is not stopped.

Dian Elvin
Witney, Oxfordshire


Ian Duncan Smith is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. In other words, he is the chief of the DWP.

Recently in London a friend of our cause attended a function where IDS was the speaker.  He asked IDS about the pension freezing policy.

"IDS said he was personally sympathetic but the Treasury will not loosen the purse strings."

Now IDS is of course an elected MP and a minister. Also the Chancellor is an elected MP and a minister.

But who elected the Treasury? Who elected these mandarins? Are they supposed to do the bidding of the government, or is the government supposed to do their bidding?

It is not their money, it is not even the government's money. It is the money we and other pensioners and prospective pensioners paid in to undergird our pensions.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10265602/Britain-must-look-beyond-the-EU-and-focus-on-links-with-the-Commonwealth.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10265619/The-Aussies-are-just-like-us-so-lets-stop-kicking-them-out.html


There is an article in the London Daily Telegraph proposing that if Britain does not end the pension freezing regime they should be expelled from the Commonwealth. It is not really a likely event, but read it and see what you think.

'Suspend Britain from Commonwealth over unfair expat pensions'

This article, recommended by Ava Hubble, is worth your attention and action.

Please go to the article, and vote "Yes". The vote button is less than half-way down the article. After voting, have a look at the results. You can then go on to the comments (way far down) and click on "recommend" for any comment that seems to support our cause.

There's a huge long list of comments -  11 pages last time I looked. It's probably not worth your while going on past the first or second pages of comments, because comments and "likes" will only be seen by people who read the article after you do.

But every little helps.


The Category B pension has been much in the news since the new single-tier pension was announced. If you want to know about the history of this type of pension, follow this link to category-b.htm In fact, it is not a new kind of pension introduced in the National Insurance Scheme in 1948; its history is much older than that.


A nice video from The International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP)

http://youtu.be/u7nnhE48xvw

They want this to have a wide audience, or "go viral" as they so trendily put it.

John Raynor


Dian Elvin spotted a letter in the Daily Mail, complaining about the way pensioners are regarded by some as a drain on UK's finances. This prompted her to write in reply. Here is the text of her reply.

DAVE CLARK, London SW16 has a point and he is not the only pensioner who is increasingly annoyed at the implications that we are a drain on the country. Half of the British citizens retiring abroad, who have paid their National Insurance contributions towards an indexed pension are treated as though they are not worth looking after if they retire to a Commonwealth country or several other countries. They have their annual indexing removed and their state pensions are frozen. If they retire to a European country, the United States, or yet another batch of countries they receive the annual indexing to cover, as expected, the rise in the cost of living. Often they are joining their families abroad. There is no adequate reason for this difference in treatment. There are many excuses, but, as Dave Clark states, the annual surplus in the National Insurance Fund is not only adequate it is more than adequate. The trouble seems to be that this money has not been used for its original purpose and the large surplus has not been allocated to cover the indexing of all state pensions.

Pensioners living anywhere abroad save this country a great deal of money in health and care expenses, so why deduct the annual indexing of their pensions? This was paid for in advance when they (and their employers) paid into the National Insurance Fund.


A lady from Queensland wrote for advice. She had received a letter from Centrelink to say she must apply for a British pension, and if she did not apply, her Australian pension would be stopped. She knew that she was not entitled to a British pension, but even Centrelink's international desk told her the same story. She must apply.

She is 67, so reached UK state pension age before the change of rules in 2010. As she only had 5 years of contributing in the UK she would not be entitled to any UK pension.

I phoned her to ascertain some of these details and discuss her options. I suggested that she would be no worse off if she applied, and even if she got a pension from UK she would still be in pocket, since the means test takes at most 50%. She had used the internet to check on her status, so I suggested she call into Centrelink and discuss the situation. They might even be prepared to look on the net themselves and agree that there was no point in applying.

It could be that other people, maybe some of your friends, who have an Australian pension but no British pension will be similarly affected. We do know that if someone applies for the OZ pension for the first time they are obliged to apply for a UK pension, or at least to enquire.

This could be due to some tightening of rules as Government tries to save money, or it could be a dragnet to find people who could get a UK pension. They could save even more if we had our pensions indexed and had a small reduction in Australian pensions. As you all know, the means test does not mean they take 100% of your British pension, only 50%. We know that Jenny Macklin wants to see our UK pensions indexed, but it could be worth while reminding your local MP, and adding to the push.


MPs often try to play upon our heartstrings by claiming that NIF money is used to help fund the cost of building such things as schools and hospitals.

Peter  sent an FOI request to the Debt Management Office about how the money in the National Insurance Fund Investment Account is used.

 He says:

As I suspected, the £30 billion goes into General Revenue and so is used for all sorts of purposes, so not specifically schools and hospitals but also to wage wars on other countries, to pay aid to overseas countries and to pay MPs salaries and allowances, etc.

Use this when some MP tries to tell you that your money is used for schools and hospitals.


The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has been challenged to prove that he can fulfil his claim that he could live on £53 a week in benefits.

This is about the same amount as the British pension was 20 years ago, and some frozen pensioners still get that amount or even less.

But he said "I know what it is like to live on the breadline", admitting that £53 a week is the breadline.

However, he is married to a rich woman, the daughter of a Baron. So when he was on the dole, "daddy" was very generous.

You can read the story at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/02/iain-duncan-smith-petition-stunt

This article also invites you to sign a petition asking him to prove it by doing it.


A friend saw Bob Geldof on Telly. As a result she decided to write to him. We had some problems finding an email address, but finally found one that looks promising.

This is what she sent:

I saw you on Australian TV this week commending the British government for the amount of money theyíre spending in overseas aid which is, of course, admirable. You also mentioned how people now arenít accepting the unfairness of governments.

In relation to this have you heard what the British Government is doing to the expat British pensioners in most Commonwealth countries such as Australia, S. Africa, Canada, etc.

For some reason this doesnít apply to pensioners in most other countries such as the USA and remember we all paid our insurance stamps in the UK so this isnít a charity.

Pensioners here in Australia never receive an increase from the date they begin to receive a pension, nor do we receive extras such as Christmas bonuses.

There have been some cases where expats in their 90s receive $11 p.w. although they contributed to the system all their working life.

This has been to the House of Lords and I think the EEC court but we really need someone like you to publicise this prime example of unacceptable government unfairness. Iíve copied James Nelson who knows the details far better than me but Iím sure weíd all be grateful for any publicity you could give to our cause.

In my opinion if this was a private superannuation rather than the government there would be an outcry and even jail sentences.


Peter Morris discovered an interesting case in the UK. It is about part time judges in the UK who were being denied access to pension provision that were available to full time judges. It appears the part time judges successfully argued that cost (£2 billion+) was no impediment to fixing discrimination! The opposite result to our frozen pensioners court case apparently.

http://www.employmentcasesupdate.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed15627

The case had gone to the Court of Justice of the EU, which referred it back to the Supreme Court with the comment that "budgetary considerations cannot justify discrimination"

We are looking into the possibility of getting ICBP interested in this case. But if they are not interested we would still recommend that you try to weave this into any email you send to a minister or a mandarin.


John Feltham has shared with us three emails he sent to a DWP committee. He received responses that show they were not generated by a machine. So somebody has read them.

1. His personal story.
2. About  schools and hospitals. See the item below.
3. When did USA join the Commonwealth?

I understand that those UK pensioners living in the USA receive all of the normal UK Pension upratings?
That really is funny!

I didn't know that they're still in the UK Commonwealth of Nations!

When did that happen?

I must have missed it.

This last one arises from a comment by a pensioner living in Canada to an online newspaper.


Sometimes when we write about the surplus in the National Insurance Fund we are told something like this.

As far as using the National Insurance Fund is concerned, any surplus - less the working balance - is held in a short-term investment account run by the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt called the Debt Management Account Deposit Facility. The surplus is invested in public services such as schools and hospitals.

When I read this, I can hear purple violin music trying to reach our heart strings and make us feel guilty about asking for our rights. "You surely would not want to deprive the children of their education and operations".

Well it just does not work. What kind of ring fence is there to make sure the invested moneys are used only for schools and hospitals? What about rail and roads, tanks and bombers, and military aid to the Syrian rebels?

The Government Actuary, in his report on the progress of the NIF, says that fairly small variations in the rates of unemployment and other assumptions can make a big difference in the investible surplus - more than would be the outgo to index our pensions properly.

If you paid our indexation, the pensions we have paid for, there would be an injection into the Australian economy that would enable us to spend on schools and hospitals.


The Government tries to tell us that uprating our pensions would be unaffordable.

Yet in the Government Actuary's report on this year's pension increases and rates of contribution, it is revealed that small variations in the assumptions on which the report is based could make quite large differences in the balance of the National Insurance Fund. Bigger than the cost of uprating our pensions.

They say they are trying to contain the increasing cost of social security, quite overlooking the fact that pensions are not paid from general taxation. They are met from the National Insurance Fund - our money.

How can it be unaffordable to let us have our own money?


The government tries to tell us they can't afford to index our pensions. They seem to forget that we are not claiming Winter Fuel Allowance, Free bus passes, Free TV licence, NHS treatment (except to be treated like other visitors). These are all social welfare benefits. Paid out of general revenue.

What we do claim, what we do ask for, is what we paid for. Not social welfare, but social insurance. Paid out of the National Insurance Fund. They call it a "contributory benefit" - we contributed.

With the compliments of British Age Pensioner Alliance