APPG Meeting – 17th July 2018

July 17, 2018 Frozen Pensions 9 Comments

On Tuesday 17 July, the APPG for Frozen British Pensions met for the last time before parliament begins it’s Summer Recess. The meeting was attended by Brian Owles, a Board member of the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) and the Chair of British Pensioners in Australia (BPiA), the main frozen pension campaign group in Australia.

BREXIT:

The meeting opened with a discussion of Brexit, in the context of the critical legislation currently before parliament.

Sir Roger Gale reported that he remained concerned about expat rights within the EU, particularly in the event of a no deal Brexit. Gale said that he had written to DEXEU seeking clarification and noted that the response had said that the government objective was a deal in which EU resident British pensioners would continue to be up-rated. Gale noted that there were some technical qualifications, and said that he was uncertain whether this arrangement was subject to a reciprocal agreement or a unilateral decision, and also whether any continued up-rating would be for future retirees or just current pensioners living in the EU.

Gale expressed his view that, if the government were to act unilaterally on EU expat pension rights, particularly in the context of a no-deal Brexit, it would likely undermine the long held “legal obligation” justification for maintaining frozen pensions elsewhere. This would create a major opportunity for the frozen pension cause, but possibly with a short window for action.

Gale said that he was in continuing dialogue with Sir Oliver Letwin who he believed to be well placed to advise on how such matters would be considered in government. He committed to update the group after the recess.

POLICY:

Sir Roger said that he still found Sir Oliver’s proposal for “up-rating going forward” (partial up-rating) compelling. He noted with concern the divisions within the activist community with regards to this solution, but recognised the injustices and imperfections inherent with it.  Gale argued strongly that up-rating going forward was, in his view, the only way to persuade the government to embrace change, not primarily because of the lower year-one cost, but because it clearly avoided risk of backdating claims, something previously identified as a primary concern with full-uprating by Treasury lawyers.

For the ICBP, Brian Owles said that up-rating going forward was not what the campaigners wanted. He argued that the £550m cost of full up-rating was not such a large cost in the context of wider pension spending and that there was no activist desire for backdating claims. Sir Roger argued that the APPG’s job was to work within political reality, that full up-rating costs were seen as high by politicians of all parties, and that concerns about backdating could not be alleviated by reassurances from campaigners as it would only take one individual to bring a case.

Tim Snowball, representing the ICBP, noted that the new Chairman of the ICBP, John Duffy, had been clear that, in his view, the ICBP’s role was to campaign for change, based on the moral injustice argument. Duffy’s focus was therefore to unite frozen pensioners globally to campaign on a common platform that would have most impact.

Peter Carroll of Tendo Consulting (who will be taking over the campaign support role previously provided by PHA Group in September), said that other campaigns he had worked on had shown that a partial win can lead to a full win in time. Achieving change should be the initial objective. He said he had lots of ideas about how to move the campaign forward and that he was in the process of working out a new campaign plan with the ICBP.

All recognized that the role of the ICBP and the APPG were slightly different, but that the close working of the campaign and it’s parliamentary supporters had been an asset in the past.

DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS:

Brian Owles, addressed the group. He reported a major effort in Australia to target Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbill, seeking to persuade him to take action on Frozen Pensions from an Australian Government perspective. Owles highlighted that it would be in the Australian national interest to do this, as, at the moment, the Australian government has to pay means tested benefits to the poorest British frozen pensions.

Sir Roger reported that, at the request of the last meeting (also attended by the ICBP), he had written to Australian and Canadian government, receiving courteous letters back, rejecting the proposal made to raise frozen pensions at CHOGM (the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), as not suitable for the agenda.

Brian Owles said that it was disappointing to hear that CHOGM is not seen as a suitable forum, given the large number of Commonwealth countries impacted. He questioned why this should be the case. The group noted that there had been an ongoing challenge bridging between foreign affairs and work and pensions, and that he Commonwealth challenge was mirrored by the recent efforts of the Overseas Territories, who had tried to raise frozen pensions with Ministers at the last Ministerial Summit, without much progress.

SECRETARIAT CHANGE:

The Chair noted that as a result of changes to the professional campaign support provided to the ICBP, Tendo Consulting would become the Secretariat to the group from the next meeting. It was agreed that Sir Roger would meet with Peter Carroll from Tendo before the next meeting.

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Comments

  1. Kenneth Fergusson
    July 21, 2018 - 2:31 am

    What are frozen pensioners’ representatives waiting for?
    Frozen pensioners are easily numerous enough to mount a significant class action against the British government who clearly are in breach of National Insurance pensions contract with fully paid up overseas frozen pensioners.
    Clear decisive action is required to achieve real effective outcome.
    Kenneth Fergusson.

  2. Peter Wells
    July 21, 2018 - 6:13 pm

    Frozen pensioners’ representatives challenged the frozen pension policy in the UK courts, starting in 2002, and at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010, and failed at each stage. Eleven judges of the Grand Chamber found the UK frozen pension policy legally correct and six judges had a dissenting opinion.

    For the Grand Chamber judgement please google “carson echr grand chamber”

  3. John West
    July 22, 2018 - 8:38 am

    This is diabolical waiting for the recess and well as if we are going to be offered even partial uplifting and it won’t happen and in any case, the full uplifting after this will never happen.
    I thought the APPG was on our side and also the New Chair is friends with Sir Richard Branson, the same Island is a friend and he was shocked at the full truth about this barbaric and totally discriminatory and after 70 YEARS PLUS, nothing by those who could doing anything about us and would rather us in even more poverty and basically want us dead ASAP
    Just this last week I know that at least 3 more deaths and contributed directly by this deliberate policy and many other before.
    I also read in absolute horror and disgust that at The so-called meeting of Commonwealth Countries did not think it appropriate to include frozen pensions issue on the agenda!!!!
    By the way, there are many other Countries not in the so-called Commonwealth who are frozen pensioner ie Thailand and Indonesia and many others.
    DISGUSTING the way British born and bred Citizens are not even 20th rated Citizens are deliberately forgotten about, but this has been raised thousands upon thousands of times before and NO ONE is doing nothing about it.

  4. George Morley
    July 23, 2018 - 1:05 am

    With Brexit in mind and cost being the stumbling block for any uprating it does put the cost into perspective when about say £600 million is needed to uprate all frozen pensioners but £39 Billion can be found to buy some respect and easing of restrictions from the EU !
    This sum would pay the current pension uprating cost for about 58 years.
    The government appear to find this kind of money for what many citizens see as blackmail but cannot find cash for their committed responsibility of pension uprating ‘entitlement’ as Steve Webb put it. The current method of imposing the freeze is by using an agreement as a necessity when no such agreement is required by any other country and is false as it is a purely domestic matter.
    In addition the inclusion of section 20 in the Pension Act ,previously done by a regulation, to impose discrimination is surely an abuse of a parliamentary Act.
    It was this that gave the ECHR the result of finding the UK acting in accordance with its own law surely ?
    So not guilty as previously said by Peter Wells : Eleven judges of the Grand Chamber found the UK frozen pension policy legally correct but six judges had a dissenting opinion.
    The Code of Conduct of both Members of Parliament and the Civil Service who are instrumental in carrying out the governments administrative work is in question when collectively they are both guilty of fraud by deception which must be addressed.
    If this kind of action is an offence in the real world outside then it can be no different for a government against a minority of its state pensioners surely ?
    There are so many agreements signed worldwide against discrimination also that one could quote and sitting down and not being vocal does not bring results but calls for a full debate in the House of Commons ! Surely ?

  5. John WestJ
    July 23, 2018 - 2:12 am

    sPOT ON BUT THEY DO NOT WANT TO KNOW SAME SAME ALL THE TIME WE SICK OF IT AND NOTHING NEW WHATSOEVER AND SORRY CAPS AGAIN AND WE WILL DISCUSS IT FURTHUR AFTER THEIR RECESS AND WHY NOT KNOW!!1

  6. George Morley
    July 23, 2018 - 8:06 pm

    The Frozen pensioners who are denied any pension increases because of where they live are deemed too costly for government to pay at £580 million and so are discriminated against contrary to the MP’s Code of Conduct.
    This £39 bn Brexit bribe would pay it 57 times over.
    This policy is not just abuse of their parliamentary powers but of the pensioners involved and the countries to which this is applied.
    Any country helping a pensioner finding themselves in poverty is being used (abused) by the UK and freeloading off their taxpayers – OZ !
    We have to search for any mention of this week in week out and this goes on and on yet Waspi seem to get some parliamentary time even if their argument is more complex but no more serious in the long run.

  7. Nigel Nelson
    July 25, 2018 - 1:07 am

    The Pension uplifting cost of £0.5 Billion (DWP’s number, not mine) pales into insignificance when you consider the excess sitting in the National Insurance Fund. This Fund is there specifically to pay the State Pension. It is our money – I paid into that Fund for 39 years in the expectation that I would receive the same State Pension as my peers, and that I would not be discriminated against. If you want to read the full story on the rape of the National Insurance Fund, read David Hencke’s blog here – https://davidhencke.com/2018/07/19/revealed-the-271-billion-rape-of-the-national-insurance-fund-that-deprived-50s-women-of-their-state-pension/

  8. Nigel
    July 25, 2018 - 1:12 am

    The excess in the National Insurance Fund (over and above the de minimus that has to be kept there) is nearly £5 Billion according to the last audit of th Fund (31st March 2017)

  9. John Livesey
    July 29, 2018 - 12:38 pm

    As a frozen pensioner in South Africa of ten years standing I would find it most difficult to accept partial uprating in the knowledge that a pensioner of say 25 years standing, and likely more in need than myself, was receiving a much smaller amount. It is a sad reflection of the political system that full uprating is not happening and that in its absence a more equitable sharing out of available funds, recognising those who have been frozen for the longest period, would not be possible.

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