Expats return to UK amid frozen pensions

Nick Lester
Expats return to UK amid frozen pensions

More than 2000 retired British expats whose pensions were frozen because they lived abroad have moved back to the United Kingdom over the last year, official figures suggest.

The snapshot data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was disclosed in a written answer by pensions minister Lord Freud in response to a parliamentary question by Democratic Unionist peer Lord Browne of Belmont.

It is estimated around 550,000 pensioners living abroad do not receive annual increases in their state payouts.

However, whether an expat's pension is frozen or not depends on where they have moved to, as Britain has made reciprocal arrangements on uprating with some countries.

It means people retiring to Canada, Australia, India, the African continent and many parts of the Caribbean lose out on state pension increases, while those living in European Union countries, the United States, Jamaica, Israel and the Philippines receive the full amount.

As a result, about 640,000 UK pensioners who live overseas do see their pensions rise.

The situation has led to claims of an unfair "national lottery" and demands for action at Westminster to tackle the "injustice" of the current system.

The British government has previously rejected calls for change on financial grounds, pointing out the uprating of all state pensions would cost more than an extra GBP 500 million ($A834 million) a year.

But campaigners argue it would generate savings as it would avoid the cost of people returning to the UK at a time when they were more likely to need the support of the NHS and social services.

In his question, Lord Browne asked the Government "how many UK pensioners whose pensions are frozen because they live overseas have moved back to the UK in the last 12 months for which figures are available?".

In his written response, Lord Freud said: "There were 2190 recipients of the UK state pension who were resident overseas with non-uprated state pensions on 31 May 2015, and who were resident in the UK on 31 May 2016."