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

July 19, 2017 Frozen Pensions 10 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.

  10. George Morley
    March 30, 2020 - 1:26 am

    Part of my letter to the Queen. March 2020.
    20 of Pensions Act 2014 deals with approximately 520,000 overseas pensioners, the majority of whom are resident in Commonwealth countries around the world and represent about 4% of pensioners worldwide.
    All pensioners are fully qualified to receive the full state pension entitlement due to the contributions we have made along with those of our employers during our working life There are approximately 96 % of pensioners worldwide, including the UK, who receive their state pension without any problem leaving just this minority 4% remainder denied any pension indexation and who will never see any increase in their pension? This is discrimination. These are referred to as ‘frozen pensioners’.
    The reason given is that these frozen pensioners are living in a country that does not have a reciprocal agreement with the UK to ‘allow’ the government to pay them their full pension entitlement.(section 20)
    This minority of pensioners therefore do not have the Equality and respect that they deserve and here I have to include your good self, Your Majesty.

    I believe that you gave the Royal Assent in good faith and it would seem that you were not fully informed of the content and consequences of the Pensions Bill as it was before becoming a lawful Act by your granting of the Royal Assent .

    This has allowed the government to actually legalise a fraudulent section 20 of the Pensions Act 2014 ?

    I was unable to find any Impact assessment carried out on this bill and further to that there was a rapid conclusion to the Scrutiny phase in the House of Lords which should and could have made the effect of the section 20 more obvious and I recall an intervention by Steve Webb who was the Pensions Minister at the time which may have precluded any further questions.

    My final assessment of this anomaly is that it places the Overseas Pensioners along with that of criminals ( sections 19 & 20 ) who lose their pension entitlement in prison which is unfair?

    This whole sad pension issue does the UK much harm across the world especially in the Commonwealth countries and others around the world with whom we wish to trade and at home where it brings the UK Government and consequently your good name, your Majesty into disrepute which I find totally unacceptable. For the pensioners it shows poor governance by denying this minority without any justification to do so.

    Section 20 demands an agreement with the country of residence of the pensioner to ‘allow’ your government to pay the indexation to those currently deprived 4% of pensioners when no such agreement is needed as this is purely a UK Government domestic policy which has nothing to do with any other country but this places the onus on the country where these frozen pensioners live which as I said are mainly Commonwealth countries and I question the need and morality of this as it is wrong putting the content of Commonwealth Charter into question by openly discriminating against the frozen pensioners.

    This then is in contravention of the Code of Conduct sworn to by all Members of Parliament plus that of members of the Civil Service obliged to carry out the work of the government against their own code ?
    The UK is the only member of the OECD to treat its pensioners this way and this policy runs contrary to the United Nations Charter.

    The UK Government fail to give all qualified pensioners their earned pension entitlement in the same way as all other OECD countries do. These pensioners actually save the government money by not being resident in UK as they do not receive any of the many benefits or NHS services? This saving more than offsets the cost of uprating the pension although the National Insurance fund can cope with this as that is the main purpose of it.
    This policy causes the DWP to have a department to handle the pension value changes when a pensioner moves between frozen & unfrozen countries and UK ? These are not needed given pension parity worldwide ?
    When a pensioner decides to emigrate this policy denies them the freedom to do so because of this financial penalty but it would actually free up some housing that is vacated especially when I read of ex-service personnel living on the street which I find very disturbing and unconscionable having served long term in the RAF for which I receive a service pension which is not frozen because it is not a requirement and saves the day for me but with it’s limitations.
    (By granting the Royal Assent , this says that Her Majesty agrees and therefore condones this discrimination which i am sure she does not. APPG should raise this question)(This is my addition).
    I very much regret having to relay this but felt that you should be aware of any impropriety.

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