British pensioners hope for pension thaw

June’s Brexit vote could prove to be good news for British pensioners living in Canada and other countries where their pensions are currently ‘frozen’.

There are estimated to be around 550,000 British pensioners living abroad who have had their state pension payments ‘frozen’. This means that their pensions don’t keep pace with the cost of living increases afforded to pensions paid to people living in the UK, EU and other countries where an agreement is in place.

British pensioners living in popular expat countries including Canada, Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong are all affected by frozen pensions.

With roughly 150,000 British pensioners living in Canada, Canadian officials have long attempted, unsuccessfully, to negotiate an agreement with the British government which would unfreeze these pensions.

However, as the UK negotiates its departure from the EU, the outcome of what should happen to the pensions of British pensioners currently residing in Europe, could offer a glimmer of hope to those living in other countries.

There are approximately 400,000 British pensioners living in Europe who have received annual increases in their pensions. If, as expected, the British government decides to continue this arrangement for pensioners, it would give those frozen pensioners who reside in other countries around the world a strong argument to pressure the British government to give them annual increases, too.

David Morris, chairman of the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners said his group wants the Canadian government to make indexing their pensions a requirement of any new free trade deal.

“Writing diplomatic letters or raising the issue with various British ministers doesn’t work,” he said. “Britain has just said, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ It has to be a little stronger than that. It has to be tied to some mutually beneficial agreement that may need to be signed because of Brexit.”

British Pensions have been frozen in Canada since 1977.

Article published 20th September 2016