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UK pension reforms: what do you want to know? (webchat)

(100 Posts)
LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 06-Nov-14 14:48:29

We'll be talking to the Rt Hon Steve Webb MP, on Wednesday 19 November, from 10 to 11am. If there's anything you want to know, whether you're confused about the recent changes or are still working and worried about what your pension will be worth when you come to retire, leave your question below.

Steve Webb was appointed Minister of State for Pensions in May 2010 and he is the Liberal Democrat MP for Thornbury and Yate.

The Minister of State for Pensions is responsible for:

- pensions policy, state pensions and Pension Credit
- private pensions, automatic enrolment and NEST
-The Pensions Regulator, Pension Protection Fund, Financial Assistance Scheme, The Pensions Advisory Service and the Pensions Ombudsman
- Fuller Working Lives
- Social Fund
- Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments
- child maintenance

Steve was the Member of Parliament for Northavon from 1997 to 2010 and held a number of posts in the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet including Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Steve also worked as an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 1986 to 1995 before being appointed Professor of Social Policy at Bath University.

Join us on 19 November, or leave your question below in advance.

ChrissyW Thu 06-Nov-14 18:39:26

Hello Steve,

Can you clarify something for me please? I am already in receipt of my state pension ( I'm 64) and have the full qualifying years in, when the new pension system comes in will I automatically be put on the new rate or will I continue on my existing pension which will probably be less than the new one?
If this is so how can this be justified for those of us who have planned ahead as we're always being advised to do, only to be penalised for our prudency?


norrinan Thu 06-Nov-14 19:37:31


I will receive my state pension in July 2017 when I am 64. I paid considerable sums into the SERPS scheme making my projected pension more than the flat rate new amount (currently predicted at around £150 per week I believe). Will I get the higher amount due to my SERPS contributions or will I be limited to the lower flat rate which should be implemented by then.

DotMH55 Thu 06-Nov-14 19:50:37

I was made to retire from the Civil Service on the 30th September against my wishes as I had requested to withdraw my application for early retirement and this was agreed by my immediate Line Manager. My pension is still not in payment despite being assured that it would (and this was given as one of the reasons why my senior line manager rejected my request to stay in employment. MyCSP are unable to give me a date when I can expect to be paid - the whole system is in chaos and service level agreements are not being kept to.

I am now incurring financial penalties because MyCSP has failed to get my pension into payment - the amount of stress this is causing me is substantial but no-one seems to care - all I get from MyCSP is that they are 'progressing' my application. Why isn't my pension in payment? Why cannot I get a straight answer to when this will happen?

Maggiemaybe Thu 06-Nov-14 22:31:28

I was made redundant this year aged 59 and my sole income is now my small Local Government pension. I cannot access my state pension until 2021, when I am 66. I have worked and paid NI contributions for 40 years (including the 7 years when I stayed at home with my children and was eligible for home responsibility payment of NI). However, I was paying into my final salary pension scheme for the last 19 years, so was contracted out. I worked in Germany for the first 2 years and was told firmly in writing by the DWP afterwards that my contributions to the German scheme would not count towards my pension (even though my now husband was out there with me, working for the same firm and paying into the same scheme, and was assured that his would!).

When I reach state retirement age, the new flat rate pension scheme will apply. If I don't do paid work again in the meantime, will the contributions I have made be enough to earn me the full flat rate pension? And if not, can I buy back years I have missed, and how much would this cost?

narrowboatnan Thu 06-Nov-14 23:41:08

I am planning to retire in July 2015. I am already in receipt of my state pension, but am also self employed. When I retire money from my self employment will cease. I shall claim Pension Credit but, as I understand it, will not be able to do so for three months after my self employment ceases. What I need to know is if I claim Pension Credit at the time of retirement do I then have to wait three months before any payment is made, and will payment be backdated to when I made the claim? Or do I have to wait three months AFTER I retire before I can claim?

durhamjen Thu 06-Nov-14 23:43:43

Was it your idea to allow people to take out their pension pots instead of buying an annuity?
Is it just a scheme to get more tax from people who do not understand the system?

SwanseaJack Fri 07-Nov-14 03:52:54

Hello Mr Webb.
Please could you explain the justification for including Clause 20 in the 2014 Pension Act? Thank you.

Morgeo Fri 07-Nov-14 04:29:32

Could you please explain to me why my cousin in the USA gets an indexed pension whilst my aunt in Canada gets no increases even though she lives in a Commonwealth country. There seems to be no logic or valid reason for this. Thank you

RobtheFox Fri 07-Nov-14 07:49:38

Mr. Webb,
Please can you give the justification for the frozen pension policy wheerby 4% of the UK pensioner population world wide are denied index linking? The ECHR did not rule uprating world wide would be illegal and your own department has now, after years of apparent denial, admitted that bilateral agreements are not necessary. What then is the justification for index linking in Barbados but freezıng at the initial rate of payment in Trinidad when the NI Fund currently has a surplus of BGP19 billion and, again according to your department, would cost only GBP 580 mıllıon to implement?

railman Fri 07-Nov-14 10:59:50

With the "New State Pension" coming into force on 6th April 2016, and with the Government saying out will be no kless than £148-80 per week for anyone entitled to the full pension.

Is this not simply just the aggregation of the current basic state pension of £113 a week with the "Guaranteed Credit" element.

Can you confirm that the £148 figure is not the basic pension, and the basic pension will remain at £113 after 6th April 2016.

If that's not the case, it is a simple fact that anyone reaching their 65th birthday on say 6th March 1916, will not be entitled to the new rate of £148, and will therefore LOSE £30 per week compared to someone who's 65th birthday is on 7th April 2016.

What will you do about such an example?

gillybob Fri 07-Nov-14 11:34:42

Hello Steve

I am 52 and my husband is 63. Together we run a small engineering business and employ 7 people. Due to the economic downturn we have been forced to give up our pensions, sell our house, downsize and sell most other things of any value including our beloved static caravan that quite honestly kept us sane. There was no way we could put people out of work.

Now we find ourselves in the unenviable position where my husband at 63 is working physically harder and longer hours than he ever has in his life. We can see no end to it and doing what we thought was the right thing for our business and indeed our workforce, turned out ot be a very bad thing for us personally. My husband jokes that "he will have to work till he drops and will no doubt get carried out in his box" Obviously the age gap makes things even more awkward. What advice could you offer me please?

grahamrichards Fri 07-Nov-14 13:15:41

Please find below copy of question that I forwarded to The Works & Select Committee and like many others who submitted similar questions didn`t get the courtesy of a response and/or acknowledgment and would be most obliged if you will let me have your views please.

I would be most obliged if you will place the following before members of The Works & Pensions Select Committee who will be meeting this coming Wednesday, 5th November and if they will raise the various points with Iain Duncan-Smith.

The inclusion of the French tropical departments in the calculations for the average winter temperature in France has unfairly raised the average temperature by including these figures. Nowhere within the calculation of the average winter temperature for the UK have the temperatures for overseas tropical regions been included. As a result the UK is proposing withdrawing the annual WFP for expat British pensioners now living in France.

The point has been raised many times before about the sub zero temperatures suffered by many elderly Brits now living in France and are very reliant on their WFP to help and assist with the cost of their winter fuel. I myself often experience average winter temperatures of -5° and in the winter of 2011 experienced temperatures of -20°C causing burst pipes and having to get a plumber in very quickly.

As a matter of priority these tropical department temperatures should be removed immediately from the calculations as a matter of utmost priority and the figures recalculated to provide a fair and realistic temperature of the true average temperature. Further it is wrong to defraud expat Brits of a non-means tested benefit to which they are perfectly entitled under EU law.

katabrontes Fri 07-Nov-14 13:48:21

Please associate me with the above post form Graham Richards which I endorse and support.

Michael Blackmore

enlim Fri 07-Nov-14 14:02:40

In September 2012, as we all know, the European Court of Justice made a ruling which overturned the British Government's decision not to pay pensioners living elsewhere in the EU the WFP. The conclusion was that withholding those payments was clearly a fraud on the part of the Government and should be reversed.
To bring this subject up to date, the Government is now attempting to perpetrate another fraud for those pensioners living in Europe by including French Tropical Territories to boost the average temperature for the whole of France. It further skews the results by using one town in the UK as the benchmark temperature, when many parts of France are infinitely colder and for those pensioners living there, they are penalised, i.e the Pyrenees, The Alps, The Auvergne etc etc.
Why are you denying pensioners their rights.

spineytoo Fri 07-Nov-14 14:19:47

I too endorse Graham Richards request for action in the Winter Fuel Payment disgrace.

rogerB40 Fri 07-Nov-14 14:44:22

Now that you have announced an income cap for The Winter Fuel Payment of the 40% tax threshold as LibDem policy, could you please persuade your ‘boss’ to change his determined charge to strip the WFP from all eligible recipients with effect from winter 2015, and adopt something similar to your announcement, for the Coalition. This will take away the terrible feelings of anxiety felt by so many elderly expat pensioners. Those of our compatriots, who are not wealthy enough to live along the Mediterranean coastline, experience some extreme winter temperatures all over France and Spain, needing heating for their homes for up to eight months in some places. The declarations made by you, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and your ‘boss’ Iain Duncan Smith, that those who live in hot countries should not receive a Winter Fuel Payment, really are most hypocritical, when one examines the real facts about the average winter temperatures for France, and the way in which the DWP is trying to fiddle those figures to make France ‘hot’, when in truth it is ‘cold’!

ChillyWilly Fri 07-Nov-14 15:15:33

Quite disgusted with IDS, who epitomises the cynical fraudsters that the UK political class has become.

Greetings from tropical, continental, France. I hope to remove my jumper and thermal vest later on.

sambs Fri 07-Nov-14 15:34:30

I'd also like to endorse the comments from those that are also living abroad as Expatriates on their UK state pensions and WFA's as I am in northern france.

Manipulated weather/temperature statistics do no-ones credibility any good. My state pension is based on my contributions only and I had to make a final upfront payment to satisfy the qualifying years rule. Now I must lose the WFA from next year, won't get the new pension rate - not just me but so many others are being penalised because we crossed the channel to live somewhere else on retirement - is that just or fair? sad

Lessur Fri 07-Nov-14 20:35:03

When Winter Fuel Allowance started in 1997/98 the Government decreed that expatriate pensioners were not entitled so we did not claim. In 2012 the European Court ruled otherwise so we claimed for arrears. These were granted for years 197/98 - 1999/20 ,when there was no time limit set for claims and for 2012/13. But 12 years were refused because we had not claimed by the 30 march of each following winter. Funnily 2013/14 was paid without us claiming! Why had we not claimed for those 12 years? Well actually it was because the Government said we couldn't. Fair or not fair? Honest? To use a legal phrase isn't the Government estopped from denying our claim?

Ana Fri 07-Nov-14 20:41:03

Who are all these people? confused

It's a takeover...

Norfolksetter Fri 07-Nov-14 20:47:57

Dear Sir
I was extremely sad to learn that the views of so many Ex-pat pensioners concerning the eligibility for Winter Fuel Allowance, had been 'rubbished' and ignored by one of your colleagues last Wednesday. I am surprised that you would wish to be associated with what is clearly a cynical manipulation of statistics to deprive pensioners living in France especially, of their entitlement to this allowance. I thought that you and your party represented the qualities of fairness and justice in the coalition government. Personally, I live at 720 metres altitude in the French Pyrenees, and I can assure you that winter temperatures here do not reach the balmy heights that Mr Duncan-Smith has decreed apply to France. I am therefore deprived of the Winter Fuel allowance - despite the fact that several feet of snow is certainly not uncommon here.

For almost 40 years I worked in the UK Education system, paying into the National Insurance scheme. I had hoped that all those years of hard work on behalf of British children, and those not insignificant contributions, would entitle me to such benefits as I might need in my retirement years. Clearly not. Living in France has made me, in the eyes of your government, a pariah, and an easy target - so that your government can demonstrate to the UK public how you are 'getting tough' with these greedy ex-pat spongers by clawing back, on spurious grounds, our benefit entitlements. How does almost 40 years of N.I. Contributions make me a sponger? Your government is happy to tax at source my two UK pensions - giving me no choice in the matter - so this 'sponger' is still contributing in taxes to the UK system.

Furthermore, through health care insurance here, I ensure that I am not a burden on the NHS. What on earth do you think would happen to the NHS, if your government's punitive approach to British ex-pats forced hundreds of thousands of us to return to the UK? It is already stretched to breaking point - you should be supporting us to stay where we are, not adopting policies which could have the opposite effect. I would suggest that your government's unfair and harsh attitude to generations of the elderly, who have worked hard for the UK and paid their contributions, just because, in retirement, they have chosen to exercise their right to freedom of movement and domicile under the terms of the EU legislation, is counter-productive and morally indefensible, if not downright illegal. How does all this square with our human rights? What has my generation done to produce this vindictiveness from the present government? Or is it just part of a cynical ploy to denegrate the elderly, and destroy their former good standing with the public, in order to permit a reduction in benefits to the old and infirm, without causing a general outcry. Basically, do we just cost too much?

And now, in due course, I face the prospect of being disenfranchised after 15 years of living abroad, despite continuing to be a contributor through taxation to the UK - is this fair and just ? Furthermore, if the proposed EU referendum produces a 'yes' vote for leaving the EU, overnight I could find myself a stateless person here, with no rights at all. Is your government prepared for a mass influx of its own citizens returning from EU countries, with all the catastrophic impact of that situation on the infrastructure of the UK? Perhaps your government needs to look rather more carefully at the potential outcomes of its policies? And how can it be right that some pensioners, who retire to certain countries, find their pensions 'frozen' with none of the ensuing increases that the majority of us receive? On what basis is this seemingly arbitrary system of 'sheep and goats' justified?

I support all the comments expressed in this forum by other participants. Perhaps you would do us all the courtesy of a considered response, and hopefully some action on these points, especially Winter Fuel Allowance, instead of the dismissive and insulting attitudes shown by your colleague Mr Duncan-Smith?

Elegran Fri 07-Nov-14 21:18:16

I think the thread has been syndicated to an expat forum, judging by the number of posts from people living in France.

Ana Fri 07-Nov-14 21:48:48

Yes - get your own Webchat, you lot!

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 07-Nov-14 22:18:52

Some of these posts should be deleted. It's not what this thread was set up for.