'FROZEN' STATE RETIREMENT PENSIONS
In November 2015 there was a meeting between, on the one side, two Directors of the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) and Sir Roger Gale, MP, the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Frozen British Pensions, and on the other side the Cabinet Minister, Oliver Letwin, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who is concerned with implementing government policy. Mr Letwin agreed that the UK Treasury should study the proposal made by the ICBG that the pensions should be partially uprated, ie by having annual uprating from their current ‘frozen’ levels. That is less than the ICBP is still pressing for, namely that the pensions should be increased to the full current UK rates and then uprated annually. But partial uprating would be an important positive movement in the right direction.
In March 2016 Parliamentary interest in the matter was maintained by an Early Day Motion tabled by a Scottish National Party MP, Ian Blackford, who is a Vice-Chairman of the APPG. He was able to follow that up by initiating a debate in the House of Commons on 11 May 2016. The debate lasted 1.5 hours with 12 MPs from all main parties speaking strongly in favour. The Government Minister from the Department of Justice could only reply that the policy of not uprating pensions in the countries concerned had been consistent since the 1940s and that such uprating would cost more than 500 million pounds a year, excluding arrears. Even partial uprating would cost tens of millions of pounds. He said that the Treasury had felt that the proposals for partial uprating made by the ICBP were not sufficiently developed, and the ICBP was working on some further proposals.
Winding up the debate Mr Blackford noted that MPs from all parties wanted the Government to take action, and acknowledging the case for partial uprating would by a start. The APPG would not let the matter drop.
The debate concluded with the passing of the following Resolution:
That this House notes with concern that the pensions of 550,000 UK pensioners residing in a number of overseas countries will no longer be uprated; is further concerned that this unfairness will lead to hardship for overseas pensioners and that this measure will discourage many UK citizens living in the UK from returning to their country of origin as many wish to in their retirement; regrets that the Government has taken this action which will lead to loneliness and anger among UK pensioners living abroad; and calls on the Government to withdraw this measure and pay UK pensioners at home and abroad their due state pension with the same uprating adjustment in the interests of fairness and equity.