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Legal, pensions and money

LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 12-Feb-15 17:32:53

My battle with a frozen pension

To be closer to her son, 79 year old Rita Young decided to relocate from Peterborough to Australia. But she soon discovered that upon leaving the UK her state pension had been frozen, and would remain so throughout her time there. Unable to finance the move and with no one left to call upon, she explains the harsh injustice of this government policy.

Rita Young

My battle with a frozen pension

Posted on: Thu 12-Feb-15 17:32:53


Lead photo

Rita Young

When my son Colin moved to Australia in 1981 to start a family of his own, I missed him dearly. The thought of not seeing him and my future grandchildren (my granddaughter married in December) grow up deeply troubled me – a feeling I’m sure many of you can relate to.

So, after retiring in 2002 my late husband and I made plans to relocate to Australia to be closer to our family. But when we looked into what this would mean financially, we were completely shocked to find that if we moved our state pensions would be frozen at the rate as when we left – and for the rest of our time there. We knew that year on year we would become progressively worse off and wouldn’t be able to afford to live without being a burden to our son and daughter-in-law – something we weren’t prepared to do, so we decided to stay in the UK.

I now find myself alone, with no family around me after my husband died in 2004, having to make do with a weekly Skype call to Australia. Whilst I’m still perfectly capable and independent now, I worry about the future and what will happen to me when my health deteriorates and I’m left with nobody close by to call upon.

Like all of us affected, I believed while I was working and paying national insurance contributions until the age of 67 that I was safeguarding my future financial security wherever I chose to live.

In some ways I consider myself lucky that I found out about frozen pensions when I did. Given the fact that the policy isn’t widely publicised, thousands of British pensioners move overseas only to find their pensions frozen. As a result, some 560,000 British pensioners living in more than 120 countries worldwide (ironically largely Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand) are affected, whilst those living in places such as Europe and the US receive annual increases to their state payments as if they lived in the UK. The policy really is illogical as it sounds; a result of half-finished bilateral agreements with overseas governments.

But it’s the complete injustice of the whole situation that still gets to me. Had my son moved to a different country, I would be able to live near him but because he chose Australia, I can’t. Like all of us affected, I believed while I was working and paying national insurance contributions until the age of 67 that I was safeguarding my future financial security wherever I chose to live. Now I sacrifice a social life so that I can save money for trips to Australia once every few years.

Through this archaic frozen pension policy, the government continues to force people like me to make a choice between being close to family and making ends meet. If you are considering moving to be closer to your loved ones that have moved away or perhaps just want to retire abroad, you need to be aware of what this might mean for your pension and for your future well-being.

All we ask the government is to be treated as equals.

The International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) are campaigning for the half a million British pensioners affected by this cruel government policy. For more information including a full list of affected countries visit the website.

By Rita Young

Twitter: @pensionjustice

rosequartz Sat 14-Feb-15 19:44:24

their only child has married an Australian and settled in Sydney
Apologies, I would have to imagine part of that as I have more than one child.

J52 Sat 14-Feb-15 20:10:54

Rosequartz I have every sympathy with your situation. It must be very difficult for
It was so very nearly us. One set of GCs here, possibly another there.
Fortunately, the OZ couple came back to have the family. But the heartache imagining what could have been!
There's no guarantee, that they won't go back though. x

Goldbeater1 Sat 14-Feb-15 20:45:20

I don't have to imagine it either. I am still in the UK because I am responsible for my own mother who is now ninety four years old and suffers from Alzheimers. So the issue of NI payments affects me. I apologise for the 'rambling' comment, I just felt that people were dismissing the issue as one of little importance because they were not personally affected by it. I am actually one of the lucky ones - I could afford to live with the situation as is ... I just cant leave my mum. (There's a deep irony there somewhere).

I'm sure it was very difficult for people in the past. Thank Goodness its easier than it was for my great great grandmother whose brother and then her eldest child migrated to Australia in the mid - eighteen hundreds. We are very lucky today to have such good communications.

Soutra Sat 14-Feb-15 20:47:24

If I may just add a further point, if "regular" members of Gransnet wish to extend the discussion to NI contributions, the NHS or any aspect of emigration, that is surely their prerogative- and not random "ramblings". smile

Soutra Sat 14-Feb-15 20:48:39

X'd posts *Goldbeater1" !!

durhamjen Sat 14-Feb-15 21:00:30

I do not think it is fair that Lord Green was given a pension pot of £9 million by HSBC. I bet he can emigrate to Australia with no worries.

Ana Sat 14-Feb-15 21:11:44

Now that really is irrelevant to this thread! hmm

Goldbeater1 Sat 14-Feb-15 21:41:03

Hallo Soutra.

I am so sorry not to be a 'regular' member of gransnet. I joined because I thought it would be fun - as a gran to be I am drawn to all things 'granny' at the moment. I was drawn to this discussion because it concerns something that affects me directly and I thought it would be a lively debate.

On other online forums I have joined, there has been no formal 'apprenticeship' people have just joined in - so please excuse me if I'm supposed to introduce myself, I didn't realise.

I did apologise for my 'rambling' comment in my last post, which appears directly above your own, Soutra.

Goldbeater1 Sat 14-Feb-15 21:42:54

Hallo everyone.

I'm new here and my user name is Goldbeater1. Silly name but there it is, I tried easier ones but they'd all been taken.

I live in Wales and am retired.

Anya Sat 14-Feb-15 22:27:16

Welcome Goldbeater1

Goldbeater1 Sat 14-Feb-15 22:49:03

Thank you Anya

Anya Sat 14-Feb-15 23:00:28

There is no formal requirement to introduce yourself Goldbeater1 but many people do anyway. Some, like myself, simply preferred to sort to skid in sideways without attracting attention. I hope you stay and enliven other discussions grin

durhamjen Sat 14-Feb-15 23:04:00

No it isn't irrelevant, Ana, unless fairness is considered irrelevant.
I thought that's what the thread was about.
Fairness is the same whether it's people moving to countries where they do not get upgrades or whether it's rich people made even richer by the pension pots they are awarded.
Fairness matters to us all.

Goldbeater1 Sat 14-Feb-15 23:04:58

I think I was led astray by the gransnet registration email which invites new members to 'plunge' into the forums ... I think creep would perhaps have been better advice :-)

I'm spending tomorrow with my mum so no more ear ache from me for a bit!

Soutra Sat 14-Feb-15 23:31:58

Apologies Goldbeateras I said our posts x'd which is why I didn't see yours until afteer mine was posted . So I had no way of knowing who you are and saw your "rambling" comment as criticism. Can we leave it at that please? A misunderstanding. smile

Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 08:59:44

Ah now I understand. I didn't actually know what Xd meant.
My rambling comment was criticism.

That's why I apologised.

Just BtW (by the way) if anyone is as truly caught up in the 'migrate or not migrate' issue as I am, you may not know that there is a site called 'poms in oz'. Google it - you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about migration (and probably quite a lot you'd rather not know :-) It's a fantastic source of information and avoids sudden nasty surprises when its too late to change course. Plus loads of moral support.

happy Sunday.

annodomini Sun 15-Feb-15 09:48:10

Belated welcome, goldbeater1. Well done for plunging. Better that than a 'creeper' any day!

Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 19:18:05


Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 19:18:26


Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 19:19:17

Haha I've been trying to get one of those nice yellow smiley faces but don't seem to have the knack...

Ana Sun 15-Feb-15 19:20:26

Square brackets, GoldBeater1! grin

Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 20:54:37


Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 20:54:51


Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 20:55:23

Oh, I've just noticed there's a preview message button. Watch this space :-)

Goldbeater1 Sun 15-Feb-15 20:56:32