Baroness Benjamin calls on government to include partial uprating for frozen pensioners in the budget

March 4, 2015 Frozen Pensions 17 Comments

Baroness Benjamin has called on the government to include partial uprating for frozen pensioners in the March 2015 budget.

Asking an oral question in the House of Lords she said “it is unbelievable that British pensioners who have paid in their full contribution do not receive their full pension when they retire to many parts of the world”. Of partial uprating she said: “It is affordable, it is cost effective and it will stop the gradual decline of pensions year on year.”

Responding for the government Lord Freud re-stated that “there are no plans to change the current arrangements for payment of state pension to those recipients who live outside the UK”, blaming the costs of doing so.

Baroness Turner, Baroness Gardner, Lord Shipley, Baroness Scotland and Baroness Hooper all voiced their support for action on frozen pensions in the supplementary questions.

The full Hansard report can be read here.

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  1. George Morley
    October 17, 2015 - 1:43 am

    When I read Hansard and see the answers given by those who should know better I despair at the possibility of even an open debate being fruitful in scrapping this divisive undemocratic frozen pension policy unless there are sufficient members that know the truth behind the frozen pension policy and their part in retaining it through ignorance.
    Look at this answer to a question that now has annotations added.
    Unbelievable rubbish and these are our representatives in government. Just listen to the answers given by Lord Freud here to Lord Taylor of Warwick:
    The annotation here refers to another poorly answered question.
    I commend the efforts of the APPG and hope that a such an open debate can be gained with a free vote which would be democratic for once. EDM363 is slowly gaining signatures and needs more support but I hear of pensioners getting poor responses from MP’s who say that they only represent constituents, so effectively saying “Get lost”.

  2. Jane Davies
    October 17, 2015 - 3:24 pm

    “Lord Freud re-stated that “there are no plans to change the current arrangements for payment of state pension to those recipients who live outside the UK”, blaming the costs of doing so.”
    Does Lord Freud actually know anything about the frozen pension scandal? His comments always seem to reflect that he doesn’t. So I will point out to him that the MAJORITY of pensioners who live outside of the UK DO get an indexed pension, just 4% of state pensioners are victims of this blatant discrimination. To use cost as an excuse is utterly disgraceful, these pensioners have made a lifetimes contributions into the NI scheme, just the same as everyone else and cost does not justify discrimination. It states in the Commonwealth Charter, recently signed by the Queen, that discrimination will not be tolerated in ANY form and to treat the most vulnerable citizens in this way is inexcusable. Baroness Benjamin, thank you for your continued support but partial uprating is just another form of discrimination and full uprating is needed to end this outrageous treatment of the few who have done nothing to deserve this injustice. To the UK government…..just do the right thing.

  3. Andy Roberston-fox
    October 18, 2015 - 9:57 am

    The replies given by Lord Freud have been somewhat more forcefully discredited on the mySociety page TheyWorkforYou and, in particular, his assertion that “bluntly it is all about money” when “budgetary constraints are not justification for discrimination” (ECJ Judge Advocate General Kokott and confırmed ın the UK Supreme Court). Let no one be in any doubt that where two people have contributed on the same terms to the NI fund but one is denied the rıght to withdraw on the same conditions for no other reason than where they live, that is discrimination. Country of residence is irrelevant; the more so given that index linking is applied in some foreign countries but not others.
    The excuses given by Webb in the Scrutiny Committee stage in respect of Section 20 of the Pensions Act and the supportıng comments from his Conservative coalition colleagues (Colville and Graham) have been equally ridiculed for their inaccuracy and illogicality.
    It should also be pointed out that the campaign for fairness, justice and equality in the payment of pensions world wide is for the immedıate full increase (without retrospepection) and not for partial unfreezing. To partially unfreeze would be to condone the current discrimination and full parity would not be achieved for between thirty to forty years – not acceptable.
    Please remember the words of the Prime Minister at the recent Conservative Party Conference – “(we want…) a Great British take-off that leaves no-one behind”…….frozen pensioners are already and will continue to be left behind if this iniquitous policy is not abolished and we look to the APPG to do all it can, please, in bringing that about..

  4. Ivor Needtosay
    October 24, 2015 - 1:02 am

    Thank you to all the members of the APPG for their determination to end the disgusting frozen pension policy, continued & perpetuated by the 2014 Pension
    Act Section 20.
    I say ‘continued’ because Section 20 used to be Regulation 3 which needed frequent Parliamentary approval. This approval was automatic – no debate was required, and now that it’s been enshrined within the Pension Act, it may never see the light of day again!
    Not if I can help it!
    Why should an OAP who has contributed as required to National Insurance, take any less (for life) than what’s given to the another OAP who has contributed the same?
    Ladies and gentlemen of the APPG, partial uprating is just that – it’s partial, and although it opens the door, it opens the door the widest for those who have just retired, and all but closes the door on those who have been retired the longest, and those who have been the most severely punished already.
    Is this right? I don’t believe it is.
    It would be right to open that door, but it would be totally abhorrent to a lot of expat OAPs to leave it in that position.
    The discrimination that UK commits with this shameful policy has no equal. No other country punishes its pensioners the way that Britain penalizes 4% of theirs. I hope with all my heart, that the APPG is successful in opening the door of equality and parity for those OAPs who have needlessly and cruelty hurt for far too long.

    • Andy Robertson-Fox
      October 24, 2015 - 7:55 am

      Totally agree with you there, Ivor, about partial uprating only gradually removing the problem and it is the younger pensioner who gains the most.
      For example one pensioner now aged 65 would, under pariıal uprating, next Aprıl (at 2.5%) see a pens9on of £118.33 – an increase of £2.37 per week – while the 90 year old would see an increase of just £1.17 to the grand figure of £48.07 per week, when both should get the same £118.33 and that is what I believe the APPG should be pursuıing.
      This partial uprating proposal is even worse than the once suggested phasing in over a few years on an age basis.starting with the eldest.

  5. Brian Corrigan
    October 24, 2015 - 7:27 am

    If all expat pensioners were treated the same, then Lord Freud’s argument for keeping the status quo would fall on stony ground. The various excuses for denying 4% of expat pensioners their fully paid up pensions and at the same time paying the 96% their paid up dues, no longer hold water. If the present Government is hell bent on saving money and balancing the books I would suggest that all expat pensioners be treated the same. Regarding partial uprating going forward. Is this fair on the pensioners who left the UK more than twenty years ago? I don’t think so.Full uprating or nothing and let the people who condone this act of discrimination be dammed for ever.

    • Andy Robertson-Fox
      October 24, 2015 - 7:58 am

      Brian, it is not a case of the “various excuses ….no longer hold water”. They have never held water in the sixty plus years of this discriminatıon!

    • John West
      October 26, 2015 - 8:11 am

      Yes thanks APPG for the efforts and support you are giving us and a few of us been working long hours and some in Thailand and have spent many hours on this and done everything possible and more to campaign on behalf of all frozen pensioners and Mr George Morley, who have seen many comments from and stating in an earlier post 9 days ago, stating pensioners getting letter basically stating “get lost” as you no longer live in my constituency!!!
      Totally insulting to say the least and we being lol “treated” as not even 4th class Citizens.
      Thanks to you all who are helping and also would like to acknowledge Mr Brian Corrigan as well. Thanks Brian indeed
      I am amazed how much debate is actually needed and even someone on the street would understand the total discrimination and yes barbaric treatment of the UK Citizens and also amazed that certain people when coming in to Power, while supporting us in Opposition and then suddenly conveniently forgetting about us.!!!!! Mr Webb for instance and now Dr Ros Altmann, I noticed nothing mentioned in the last State information for 2016 and NOTHING about the frozen pensioner, again and this was very recent.
      I am also very concerned that the APPG ‘s next meeting is on 25th Nov and reading a bit furthur today the Chairman stating we hope to meet 5 or 6 times a year and obviously they are involved with other things and yes appreciate this, but how much more debate is needed.
      It is THEFT from all of us and some have contributed much more than others, yet those expats living of all places USA and just the whole of Europe getting the annual cost of living rise.
      Also and people will and have shot me down in flames and state we should only bring up Frozen Pension isues, but frankly I disagree and the fact that the uk are by far the no1 nation for Foreign Aid and suddenly finding billions of pounds from somewhere to help the refugees pouring in to the UK or can we not discuss this, or has this not been brought up.
      After all the people who simply for some reason pretend not to understand the Frozen Pension Issue.
      Yes very very hard to do anything more that I have been doing and alot more besides, but just because we are miles away, it seems some people attitude is out of sight and out of mind and yes most of us are!!!!

      • Ivor Needtosay
        October 27, 2015 - 12:18 am

        John, knowing just how much water has passed under the bridge, and how much has been said on this issue in the past, makes it very frustrating I know when it looks like things have to start from the beginning once more.
        But in the case of the APPG, sympathetic new members are definitely not as knowledgable as those members who have supported us for years, those who have the facts and figures regarding the frozen pension policy at their fingertips, and which new members certainly will not have.
        Those new members will have to educated in the 60 years of twists and turns of this iniquitous policy, so they can be sure of their ground when they argue for its abolition – and try to gain even more MP’s and Lords who will support our cause.
        Yes, someone in the street would (and does) understand the discrimination and barbaric treatment that disgusting policy delivers, and so do the politicians who OK’d all the rules and regulations that enforce it. Those politicians of that long held (but incorrect) view now have to be convinced to change their thinking – hence the APPG.
        We can only support them, and encourage them to increase their efforts in doing what we’re also trying to do – which is to rid the world of one of the most discriminatory and cruel policies ever to have squirmed its way out of the House of Commons.

        • wayfarer39
          February 27, 2016 - 4:54 am

          I agree that we need to support the APPG, but the fact that Steve Webb misrepresented the Canadian state pension system in his committee on frozen pensions, claiming erroneously that it is means-tested, shows the battle we need to fight. His misrepresentation quashed then Shadow Minister Gregg McClymont’s request for a review of frozen pensions (PBC Deb 4 July 2013 c224,) an error now enshrined as “fact” in SN 1457.
          When all other OECD countries, including Canada, uprate pensions no matter where retirees live, why does the UK persist In its injustice and intransigence?

          One only has to read the document of the dissenting ECHR judges, led by Tulken, the chairman, to see how iniquitous is the policy of freezing pensions. I would sleep at night (perhaps) if everyone were frozen; I cannot sleep when neighbours 20 kilometres to the south enjoy uprating.

          • Andy Robertson-Fox
            February 27, 2016 - 2:13 pm

            Webb also made the claim that if uprating was applied to UK pensioners in Australia it would simply go into the Australian economy because they supplement where required to subsidise the shortfall this policy brings the individual below the poverty line. Disgraceful, of course, and actually not true It would go to the rightful owner, the pensıoner, and it would be for the Australian government to decide whether to withdraw or reduce any subsidy they are makıng – their decisıon, not the UK government’s.
            This week in the House of Lords Baroness Altmann, virtually fell into the same trap and said the figure that would go to the Australian Treasury amounted to 25% of any payment. What was not asked and the APPG needs to push is why is 75% of the total payment which would not go to the Australian Treasury, regardless of who iıs right, being withheld from those pensioners who, by making their NI contributions during their working lives, are now entitled to it?.

  6. Morgeo
    October 24, 2015 - 2:58 pm

    The arguments given here show the feelings of all frozen pensioners and I think those that do comment where possible including the members of the APPG are being realistic and honest in their efforts to resolve this ‘theft’ by whatever means are appropriate and available because that is what it is.
    So it seems to me that if one is to have a Code of Conduct for members of both Houses of Parliament then this code must be upheld by all or it is a totally worthless. So what is the purpose if not to avoid any wrongs being displayed in Parliament by individuals using a lie or a bribe or a discriminative policy like the one that we are persuing ? Pointless.
    Would a member of the APPG question the Prime Minister in the House about this using the Code as reason to give these pensioners the equality and dignity that they deserve as they have committed no offence but are punished just the same. If the Code says no discrimination this does’nt mean that it is acceptable in some cases but not others does it ?
    We have a Government Equalities Office, responsible for equality strategy and legislation across government on equality which works tirelessly it seems to uphold the rights of LGBT but does nothing for the frozen pensioners rights.
    Well, they are over there are’nt they and don’t matter but it is the UK Parliament that has introduced the discriminative policy into law by the use of section 20 in the Pensions Act against a minority of citizens. So where are they because if their remit is purely within UK and not worldwide then this is within the scope of their responsibility being a UK Government discriminative policy even though it’s effect is outside of the UK as it affects the current pensioner there in the UK with their retirement options.
    In a letter to the EHRC they said that they would look into it but as expected there has been no positive response. There is none so blind as he who refuses to see !

  7. Brian Corrigan
    February 28, 2016 - 5:54 am

    Thank you Baroness for your continued support.

    • John West
      February 29, 2016 - 7:26 am

      Yes many thanks indeed Baroness and Parliament listening?

  8. Brian Corrigan
    February 28, 2016 - 6:06 am

    We hope Parliament is listening and thank you for your continued support.

  9. Brian Corrigan
    March 4, 2016 - 8:04 am

    Does the Government want us to believe otherwise?

  10. Brian Corrigan
    March 4, 2016 - 8:06 am

    Justin Tomlinson Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

    The Government has a clear position, which has remained consistent for around 70 years: UK state pensions are payable worldwide and uprated abroad where we have a legal requirement to do so for example in the European Economic Area or countries where we have bilateral agreements. There are no plans to change this.

    Not uprating where there is no legal requirement to do so frees up about £0.5 billion a year which can be used to fund Government priorities in this country.

    We always new the British Governments position,but we now have from the horses mouth the savings being made. I personally think the figure is understated. 560,000 frozen pensioners@ 3,800 pounds/year ( Confirmed by the DWP ) equals 2,128,000,000 on my calculator.

    Now we have a figure I would like to see the APPG follow this up. I would also like the Australian Government to look very closely at this saving and start asking questions.

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