- 2012 National Retired Members Conference
- 19 June 2012
- Carried as Amended
Conference deplores the government’s “frozen pensions” policy whereby British pensioners who live abroad in certain countries only receive a pension at the rate it was in the year they left the UK. There are around 555,000 “frozen” pensioners around the world, almost half of whom live in Australia. One of the oldest is 100-year-old Annie Carr who was widowed in 1964 and emigrated to Australia in 1970 to join her only daughter. She received a pension of £5 a week from the UK which increased to £6.12 after she returned to the UK for nine months in 1972. In the 40 years since then her pension has been frozen at this level resulting in her being out of pocket by more than £5000 a year.
Campaigners say that cases such as this demonstrate why the UK government’s “frozen pensions” policy is discriminatory and unfair, and results in financial hardship for British citizens around the world. In Mrs Carr’s case her pension was made up to the Australian level by their government and after five years she received an Australian pension in her own right, thus the Australian government have kept her for at least the last 30 years.
Conference notes that British citizens who move to Australia, Canada, South Africa or one of a number of other nations do not have their basic state pension increased annually, as happens in the UK, but will be permanently frozen at the date they retire or when they arrived in that country and will never increase. However anyone who moves to an EU country, the US or one of a list of other places including Israel and the Philippines, will receive their annual pension increase in line with inflation.
Furthermore the divide between pension haves and have-nots widened last year when the UK government restored the link between the basic state pension and earnings leaving those with “frozen pensions” even worse off than before.
Conference condemns suggestions by the government that these people are somehow at fault for “choosing” to live abroad in a country where the UK basic state pension is not increased in line with inflation. Apart from the fact that there are all manner of (legitimate) reasons why British pensioners live abroad including overseas postings with companies, the diplomatic service, the military etc or to be closer to children and grandchildren, this conveniently distracts attention from the fact that these anomalies in the payment of the basic state pension to citizens who live abroad is entirely down to government policy.
Conference believes that all British citizens who live abroad should receive the same basic state pension as those who live in the UK and that the policy of determining that those who live in certain countries will be subject to “frozen pensions” while those who live in other countries are not is arbitrary and indefensible.
Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:
1 liaise with the NEC and through them Labour Link to seek the support of
Labour MPs to oppose this policy and for its replacement with a system that
gives all British pensioners who live abroad the same entitlement to payment
of their basic state pension as those who live in the UK;
2 liaise with the International Consortium of British Pensioners who recently
launched a Pension Justice website to highlight its cause and the inequality
of the “frozen pension” policy;
3 publicise opposition to the “frozen pension” policy through all appropriate
4 urge retired members to write to their MPs on this issue;
5 report back to National Retired Members’ Conference 2013.