100,000 war heroes denied state pension rises

Lily Canter
·2-min read
Pension planning to avoid poverty in retirement. Photo: Getty
Pension planning to avoid poverty in retirement. Photo: Getty

Around 100,000 military veterans who moved abroad are living off “frozen pensions” with as little as £40 ($49.62) a week.

Campaigners are calling on the government to stop freezing state pensions when retirees move overseas.

UK nationals living in countries without a reciprocal agreement do not receive any pension increase in line with inflation, meaning their real value falls year-on-year. Many left the UK to join families in Commonwealth countries like Australia and Canada.

The End Frozen Pensions campaign says there are 520,000 retirees affected by the freeze, including thousands who served in the armed forces during World War II. Many are now living in poverty despite paying their national insurance contributions in full.

It comes as Britain marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day this weekend.

Inez Minc, aged 97, who served as a nurse during World War Two in France and Germany, moved to Australia in 1986 with her husband. She now lives on her own near Perth and gets £40.13 UK state pension a week.

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Being partially deaf and blind, she has struggled paying medical bills and is frustrated that she would receive £134 a week if she still lived in the UK.

The International Consortium of British Pensioners Is urging the public to sign their petition and contact their local MP to lobby for change.

All British pensioners who have made national insurance contributions during their working lives are entitled to a British state pension regardless of where they choose to live. But 4% of recipients are not eligible for an inflation “uprate” because they do not live in the European Economic Area or a country with a reciprocal agreement.

Paul Gaffney, spokesperson for End Frozen Pensions, said many of the affected pensioners could not remember being told their pension would not be uprated.

“These brave pensioners exemplify the gross injustice of the UK Government’s frozen pensions policy, which is being exacerbated by the current Covid-19 pandemic," he added.

The Department of Work and Pensions said it continued to uprate state pensions overseas where there was a legal requirement to do so.