APPG officially re-forms after General Election and hears from Australia based Frozen Pension campaigner

July 19, 2017 Frozen Pensions 9 Comments

The APPG on Frozen British Pensions has re-formed. It met for the first time in the 2017 parliament on 18 July.

As required by the parliamentary rules the group’s Officers were re-elected. Sir Roger Gale was re-elected as Chair, Yasmin Qureshi and Lord German were re-elected as the Labour and Liberal Democrat Vice-Chairs respectively. Mhairi Black was elected as the new SNP Vice Chair, replacing Ian Blackford, who resigned after becoming SNP Westminster Group leader. Sir Peter Bottomley was re-elected as the Group’s Treasurer. The Group resolved to invite the DUP to nominate a Vice-Chair should the Party wish to.

The meeting considered the significant campaign progress made in the previous parliament; notably securing debates in both houses, attracting the interest of Ministers and winning the formal support of the Official Opposition. Members also discussed the opportunity of heightened interest in expat rights in the context of Brexit, to pursue a reform agenda.

Guest speaker, Brian Owles, the Chair of British Pensioners in Australia (BPiA) addressed the group. He thanked the APPG for their ongoing work.

“We are extremely grateful for the support and energy that is provided by APPG to overcome the inequity and immoral attitude in relation to the “frozen pensions” of UK pensioners who happen to live in particular countries outside UK.” Brian Owles, Chair, BPiA

Owles reminded the group of the “bureaucratic absurdity” that there is a government office he can call while in the UK, to have his pension up-rated for the duration of this visit. He asked: “How much is that costing!?”

Owles called for action before the problem of frozen pensions got worse, increasingly affecting other areas of the  Commonwealth such as the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent.

Chairman Sir Roger Gale, proposed to speak with the new Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, about the issue, as well as Damian Green, Andrea Leadsom and the Chief Whip.

Lord German reported that he had requested two debates that would cover frozen pensions in the Lords.

The group committed to submit more Parliamentary Questions to fully explore what is going to happen to pensioners living in the EU and add pressure on the government to address the situation for all expats, not just those in the EU.

Lord German asked the Secretariat to visit the National Archives at Kew to dig out any papers from the original bilateral social security deals with unfrozen countries.

It was agreed that a challenge to the Social Security Benefit Up-rating Regulations in March 2018 remained the most viable parliamentary mechanism to achieve change, and given the support of the Official Opposition, it was hoped that the government might compromise before a vote was needed.

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  1. Andy Robertson-Fox
    July 23, 2017 - 7:32 pm

    APPG Membership
    Following the meetıng prior to the recess are ther any new members of this APPG?
    I note that Sir Gerald Howarth (Conservative) has been included but did he not stand down as an MP for Aldershot at the recent General Election?

  2. The Retiree
    July 23, 2017 - 11:15 pm

    Mhairi Black is new, replacing Ian Blackford as SNP Vice Chair

  3. Jim Tilley
    July 24, 2017 - 1:06 pm

    It was good to see that another member of BPiA is now becoming involved in pressing BPiAs message the UK, it also very encouraging to read that Mhairi Black MP is taking a higher profile on behalf of us frozen pensioners, for her various contribution to debates in the last Commons indicate her passion for causes. I recommend everyone who reads this comment should visit Ms Blacks’s Facebook site and listen to some the videos of her contributions to past debates, including one about our frozen pensions.

  4. Jane Davies
    July 25, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    “It was agreed that a challenge to the Social Security Benefit Up-rating Regulations in March 2018 remained the most viable parliamentary mechanism to achieve change, and given the support of the Official Opposition, it was hoped that the government might compromise before a vote was needed.”
    I’m concerned about that word “compromise” it smacks of the frozen 4% being asked to accept something less than the 96%. All have paid for their pensions under the same terms ALL must be treated the same, nothing less will be acceptable. Thank you to all who support ending this scandal but as every week, month and year passes these pensioners are still doomed to live in poverty, victims of a deliberate, immoral act of theft from every government for decades. Time is of the essence here, action is needed and needed now, not in a year or two or three…..but now.

  5. Dez Maule
    July 25, 2017 - 9:52 pm

    This makes good and encouraging reading. Thank you to our BPiA Chairman for using some of his UK trip to address the APPG. We must try to convince the APPG to campaign for FULL uprating rather than the PARTIAL uprating discussed during the Commons debate in March. Anything less will leave the 4% of British pensioners being discriminated against which doesn’t completely resolve the problem.

  6. Clive Evans
    October 6, 2017 - 1:40 am

    I understand that the APPG is considering yet again to recommend the partial up-rating of pensions for ‘frozen’ pensioners.

    May I respectfully advise that those frozen pensioners resident in Thailand that I represent are against this proposal and request that full, and only full, up-rating should be pursued as the alternative continues to penalise frozen pensioners whose pensions devalue on an annual basis.

    The arguments against up-rating that are constantly forthcoming from UK Gov are not in our opinion any longer valid. It has been conceded that Reciprocal Agreements are not necessary as domestic legislation can provide for up-rating.

    The fact that UK Gov only up-rates when it has a legal obligation to do so is also no longer valid. Section 20 of the Pensions Act provides that the Minister MAY make regulations to withhold the up-rating. This is not a legal obligation on the Minister.

    Clive Evans – Thailand

  7. Kenneth Fergusson
    January 1, 2018 - 8:55 am

    I am a British pensioner resident in Australia with a frozen British pension of 14 years.
    As a fully paid up subscriber of appropriate NI contributions to age of 65yrs I believe that the British government is contractually obliged to pay me a full indexed pension as paid for.

    Because of their failure to pay this indexed pension then I believe successive British governments of 14 yrs are clearly in breach of contract.
    In most other forms of international commercial contract law such a breach and its ensuing damages clearly shown as ‘incurred losses’ would be successfully duly litigated.

    I am astounded that by now 500,000 discriminated frozen pensioners,or their advisers, have not attracted a ‘ class action’ in legal pursuit of the British Government on this matter of gross discriminatory unfairness?
    Do we simply need a Pro bono legal attorney?

  8. Paul
    February 26, 2018 - 7:05 am

    We need a celeb to champion our cause. Trouble is, our cause is not’ sexy’enough to attract celebs: we are old, scattered all over the world, powerless [ no vote] and white. Please no snippy remarks about that last point, you all know what I mean. Were we non-white, the celebs would crawl over broken glass for us.

  9. David Girkin
    June 12, 2018 - 6:14 am

    Much discussion, not really any action, sad indictment of the U. K. government, from Howard Wilson, all the way down to May, and STILL no shame? Thank you to the tireless souls, [APPG] BPIA and all who strive, but, I don’t hold out much hope. D.

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