November 2016 Meeting of the APPG: Brexit, Overseas Territories and ICBP

November 18, 2016 Frozen Pensions 19 Comments

20161115_111332The APPG for Frozen British Pensions met on Tuesday the 15th of November at 11am in Portcullis House. The agenda included updates from the ICBP, the British Overseas Territories and on Parliamentary Activity.

The meeting was opened by Sir Roger Gale MP, Chair of the APPG, who thanked everyone for coming, particularly the invited guests from the ICBP and Overseas Territories.

Update from the International Consortium of British Pensioners

Guest speaker, John Markham, Chair of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, gave a brief introduction to the ICBP as a campaign group, and explained how the organisation was working hard to represent frozen pensioners globally, not just in Canada and Australia where the majority of their members (and frozen pensioners) currently reside.

Markham updated the APPG on the ICBP’s ongoing discussions with Sir Oliver Letwin MP, who had been instrumental in encouraging both the APPG and ICBP to work up proposals for partial uprating option while he was a Minister. Markham said that the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) had recently submitted research commissioned in response to the brief set by Letwin, following advice he received from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and that the ICBP delegation would have an opportunity to discuss this with Letwin later in the week.

20161115_111411Nigel Nelson, another Director of the ICBP, presented a table of erosion figures, showing just how much frozen pensioners lost each year and over their retirement.

Nelson stressed that the issue of frozen pensions was also affecting citizens in British Overseas Territories such as Montserrat and the Falklands, and that there was a growing threat for British pensioners living in the EU, given the uncertainties of Brexit. Nelson reported that he was currently getting a lot of interest from the Spanish media, given the 108,000 British pensions in Spain. He recognised that the Votes for Life Bill was highly significant for the political salience of the frozen pensions issue and said that the ICBP would support it.

Tim Snowball, Public Affairs adviser to the ICBP, recognised that given the government’s consistent position was that they would only uprate State Pensions “where there was a legal obligation to do so”, there really was uncertainty about what would happen if the UK left the social security provisions of the single market during the Brexit process. He suggested that Brexit offered an important vehicle for raising the profile of the frozen pension issue, both in terms of new risk to EU resident pensioners, and opportunity for those currently frozen elsewhere. He identified the possible government decision to make a new bilateral social security deal with the EU (or individual EU countries) and future trade deals as key opportunities to seek wider resolution.

John Markham added that whatever the government did in the Brexit process, it would strength the case for unfreezing globally. If the government freezes EU resident pensioners, then it would create nearly 1 million angry voices to support the campaign. If it doesn’t, and negotiates a new social security agreement, those in other countries will be entitled to ask, “why not us too”?

Update on Parliamentary Activity

20161115_111323Ian Blackford MP, a Vice Chair of the APPG, regretted that there had been no significant developments in Parliament since the APPG led debate in May.

Blackford recognised the new opportunity of Brexit for the campaign, and suggested that both the APPG and ICBP make the new uncertainty around the implications of Brexit for EU resident British pensioners the focus of campaigning for the next few months.

Sir Roger Gale reported a high level of fear in the EU UK pensioner community on this issue and how some individual were already coming home to avoid the stressful situation of their pensions not being uprated.

Gale suggested that perhaps the APPG and/or the ICBP should talk again to Sir Oliver Letwin MP, who he remarked was still very interested in the issue of frozen pensions and probably would be the best source of advice on how to proceed next.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP suggested that success with the Votes for Life Bill would be critical to breaking the log jam on the frozen pension issue as it would significantly expand the number of overseas voters. He said that the government was aiming to get 1 million further British residents to register to vote by 2020. Clifton Brown offered to write an article on frozen pensions for an overseas newspaper.

Lord German suggested that MPs and Peers should table oral and written questions in Parliament to keep the issue of frozen pensions current. He proposed that the APPG should play a coordinating role for this activity.

20161115_111352German also suggested that the APPG looks to engage with the relevant Lords EU Sub Committee.

Ian Blackford noted that the Annual Uprating Regulations would be tabled by the Government in March 2017 and that the APPG should seek to challenge this once again, despite the difficulties experienced last time.

Blackford proposed that Sir Roger might seek a Westminster Hall debate on frozen pensions in the New Year. He also undertook to speak with Richard Harrington about it at their next meeting.

Blackford also suggested that if one of the Select Committees could be encouraged to take evidence on the issue of frozen pensions, and pointed out that currently Hilary Benn MP chairs the Brexit Committee. Sir Roger undertook to talk to Hilary Benn about this issue.

Discussion with representatives of the British Overseas Territories

20161115_111349Sukey Cameron, the UK Representative of the Falkland Islands, expressed her frustration that the issue of frozen pensions had been going on for a long time without any attempt by the government to resolve it.

Cameron reported that the issue had been raised at the recent Joint Ministerial Council between the leaders of the British Overseas Territories and the UK Government, but that Richard Harrington MP’s contribution at the recent had been less than satisfactory.  She also noted that there had been an apparent Ministerial confusion as to whether Frozen Pensions in the OT context was a Foreign and Commonwealth or DWP issue and that this needed to be clarified in follow up. Finally, Cameron spoke about the situation of frozen pensioners in the Falkland Islands, which has led to the government there having to top up pensions themselves.

Dominique Searle, the UK Representative of Gibraltar, said that he was unsure how many British pensioners would be affected in Gibraltar if Brexit led to freezing across the EU, but said that he expected the number to be significant. He noted that when General Franco closed the border in 1969 Spanish people who had worked for British companies in Gibraltar were not able to access their pensions. He wondered if there would be a case for backdating claims should Britain ever re-join the EU.


John Markham announced that he would be stepping down as chair of the ICBP in the New Year and that he expected that Nigel Nelson would succeed him. He thanked all present for their support. The APPG recognised and thanked John for his many years of campaigning on the frozen pension issue.

#APPG#brexit#Frozen British Pensions#frozen pensions#government#Ian Blackford#Lord German#Meeting#Oliver Letwin#Overseas Territories#Roger Gale#Sukey Cameron

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  1. Clifric
    December 18, 2016 - 6:48 am

    Partial up-rating would be a stitch-up and, if accepted, a lever for future Governments to continue this discriminatory policy – fairness means everybody gets a fair share, never mind legal obligations this is immoral

    • Alan Davidson
      December 18, 2016 - 1:05 pm

      Partial up-rating would be an acceptable first step solution to ending the frozen pension policy. Insisting on complete backdating for all, although logically and morally perfectly justifiable, would most likely prevent any progress on this.

      • protempore
        December 18, 2016 - 4:50 pm

        I don’t agree, partial uprating would mean those who have been frozen the longest and are getting a pittance, would get the least. Full uprating and nothing less, we are at least not asking for backdating, which by rights we are entitled to, so no partial uprating is still discriminating against the 4% who are victims of this scandal.

      • John West
        December 19, 2016 - 3:48 am

        No one it seems asking for backdating, though this would be fair enough.

      • Clifric
        December 19, 2016 - 3:55 am

        Alan – I admire your optimism; I personally do not think that after granting partial up-rating there would be any motivation for UK Gov to take matters further – all or nothing.

        • Alan Davidson
          December 19, 2016 - 11:00 am

          I have no optimism at all on this! I thought I read that there is an ICBP financial study based on partial uprating that was to be submitted to the UK Government, or perhaps has been submitted. If so I’d like to see a copy posted. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems unlikely that this could then result in a policy change to give full uprating to all but with no backdating.

  2. Alan Harris
    December 18, 2016 - 8:32 am

    I live in Morocco and have a frozen pension which M.P. should i write to to complain and what is his email address.I am a British born and bred citizen and was in the Navy for 12 years and worked in england nd paid all my contributions so why will they not honour their commitments.

    • Clifric
      December 18, 2016 - 9:45 am

      The MP for the constituency you last were registered to vote in. If you have been abroad for more than 15 years you cannot vote but the Government is currently consulting on the Bill to remove this obstacle. Then you can register to vote for life but only in the last constituency you lived in.

    • John West
      December 19, 2016 - 3:46 am

      Alan they sent out the same spill in that as you no longer live in my constituency, I can not help you. well that has been the attitude of all of them and mine in Gravesham, Kent The lol Hon Adam Holloway who does not care, like the rest of them

  3. Phil Sale
    December 18, 2016 - 12:04 pm

    Certainly doesn’t make for encouraging reading. One thing I would point out to increase the number of existing Voters, is that those with Postal Votes, who never receive their papers in time, (General Election I received them 5 weeks after the election, Referendum, I am still waiting) is to go for a Proxy Vote, in my case that presented a problem, because I had no family in the area of my registration, I ended up asking a former Colleague, and he agreed. The process to change from Postal to Proxy is easy and can be done by email, it only took three days, now my vote will count.

  4. John West
    December 19, 2016 - 3:43 am

    Sorry there are frozen State Pensioners in Thailand too or do we not count and if you live in Canada, S Africa or Australia. you count. Do not forget many other Countries where people living and struggling with bringing up their Families. Please do not forget about us, like the British alliance it seems. Thank you.

    • Clifric
      December 19, 2016 - 3:56 am

      I too am a frozen pensioner living in Thailand – do you think we might apply to get some of the billions of foreign aid from the UK, after all we are living in a foreign country and need aid?

      • John West
        December 19, 2016 - 4:28 am

        Yes have stated this so many times and all the scroungers in the UK (including our own People) but it does not matter to them that we are British born citizens and all and sundry flooding in to the UK get all the benefits with NO CONTRIBUTIONS. Yes it is appalling and disgusting and 17th Century barbaric practices carried out.
        Also the Foreign Aid is going up substantially year on year, but sod our own people,but then we get told this is another department and can’t afford it. We did not come down in the last shower. What absolute nonsense.

  5. John West
    December 19, 2016 - 3:57 am

    Again absolutely no progress and more talk the talk and high time we got the same pensions. It is disgusting, but we have stated this for many years. By the way have asked several times on tweets how this Canadian initiaiative is coming on regarding the saving we make via an independent consultant in the UK????

  6. Brian Corrigan
    December 19, 2016 - 9:21 am

  7. Brian Corrigan
    December 20, 2016 - 9:17 am

    Britain spends £13.4bn or 0.7% of its Gross National Income on overseas aid and yet finds it difficult to find 0.003% of the Gross national Income (£590m) to rectify the blatant discrimination being shown to 4% of British Pensioners, all of whom have paid into the system and contributed to the Gross National Income. How cock-eyed is that for a balanced Government policy. The British Government could still apply universal pension uprating and still have £12.8bn left over to give to overseas aid and fund Ethiopian Girl Bands if it makes them feel good.

  8. Brian Corrigan
    December 22, 2016 - 4:28 am

    The Queen’s speech in May of 2017 will herald into law Theresa May’s Great Repeal, Bill. This bill which will come into force in March 2019, will enable the UK Government to bring into British law all the EU laws and regulations and treat them as its own laws. The one regulation/law which concerns us is the one which enables the EU to stipulate to the UK government the rules governing the indexing of pensions and which the UK government likes to quote when questioned why it index’s only certain pensions ( “We only uprate state pensions where we have a legal obligation”) These EU regulations/laws, the EU Social Security Coordination Regulations (EC) Nos. 883/2004 and 987/2009 Coordinating social security schemes in the EU, state that In theory and in practice, EU citizens moving from one member state to another shall not lose any of their social security rights earned when staying in one member state.
    The UK government has made it clear that it is its intention to keep the laws beneficial to the UK and dispense with ones of no interest. I can see no reason why the Government would want to keep an EU law/ regulation which deprives it of over half a billion pounds in pension savings, unless of course there is a political motive. If there is a political motive and pensioners formally enjoying indexing under their old masters continue to benefit, what would be the position of the 560,000 pensioners who have never had any increases? As this subject does not, in my opinion, require new trade laws, reciprocal agreements or negotiations with the EU ( It will be British law ) should we not be going forward to find out our position and be included in the outcome of any positive decisions?

  9. Christopher Newton
    December 23, 2016 - 8:32 am

    The UK Government will keep spinning this out to save money to waste on things they do really care about and it’s obvious they don’t care one jot about us

    To my mind this is illegal. It’s a huge SCAM, it’s a criminal offence to obtain money by deception, it’s obtaining money under false pretense . It’s FRAUD …… And it’s time to put a stop to it NOW

    This matter should be reported to the UK police.

    So when our lovely “fair minded politicians” receive a visit from the CID, they will see that it’s in their own interest to move their fat arses and put matters right quickly

    So, can someone based in the UK, please pop into their local cop shop and make an official complaint – That WILL focus their minds and get us what we’re due

    What are we due ? I would say all the people who’ve managed to live on their frozen pension are fully entitled to everything they should have received in the first place from their 65th birthday plus INTEREST ! Yes, interest as well, plus damages for all the misery they have caused and continue to cause even now.

    How on Earth would anyone be able to live on 43 pounds a week for the last couple of decades …….. What’s wrong with these people ……. What the hell are they in politics for ….. To borrow more money to give away to foreign so called governments and put the UK further in debt …. That’s what it looks like to me

    Further, I’ve brought up my own children here in Thailand (10 & 12 years old) Did I get family allowance ……. Not a chance, Frozen pension …. and it’s paid late every month. It takes CitiBank 12 days to transfer money to Thailand – Western Union can do it in 12 hours – Do you think someone’s taking the Pxxx

    Brexit’s reduced my pension by 20%, so it’s actually 20% than when I received it six years ago

    So please try a different more proactive approach, The legal profession will continue to run rings around us amateurs, it’s their job, they’re on home ground.

    I say try getting the Government to explain it’self to the CID ……. Please let me know how you go on

    The government say they fulfil their legal obligations, however, fraud IS NOT LEGAL

    Kind regards and good luck to you all ………. Christopher Newton …….. Thailand

  10. Jim Cleverly
    February 11, 2017 - 12:26 pm

    Constructive sensible argument Brian – but unfortunately when did constructive and sensible enter the parliamentarians’ vocabulary. I know from your previous comments on this and other relevant sites your level-headed approach to this whole issue of our frozen pensions but I still feel that despite the issues of Brexit negotiations we are unlikely to benefit in the short term and the longer term is not looking bright either. It would appear that it needs a few senior Cabinet Ministers and their opposition counterparts to get involved for this to be moved forward but, again, there appears little likelihood of that – stepping out of line loses you your highly paid position and the perks that go with it – the look-after-number-one syndrome. So – what is the real answer ? The government holds all the aces of course and continually spouts the old chestnut of unaffordability which we all know is a furphy. The legal angle has been pursued of course , to the highest level, and that avenue is now closed to further approach. Tanks on the street in Whitehall, a lovely notion to this ex-serviceman, is less likely than Lincoln City winning the FA Cup unfortunately – and as a side issue if they messed with my Royal Navy pension and those of my ex-service colleagues we would certainly be up in arms – figuratively if not literally ! I joined with the BPiA organisation many years ago now and respect the work that Jim Tilley and others have undertaken on this over those years but how much further down the track to righting this wrong are we now? The intransigence of this and previous administrations beggars belief sometimes – now how’s about a motion to reduce parliamentary salaries and perks and pensions – that would certainly get them jumping up and down in no time !

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