PAID TO BRITS ABROAD
THE BRITS ABROAD PENSION ASSOCIATION
by Kenneth Seymour
and Jim Andrews
YOUR OLD AGE UK PENSION WILL NOT KICK IN UNTIL YOU ARE 67 - IF YOU ARE 50 OR YOUNGER NOW.
The date hasn’t been set yet but the UK State Pension will not kick in until you have reached 67. This is likely to come into force around 2020 but any new government might bring that forward to 2016. This means that anyone now under 50 will not start drawing their old age pension until they reach 67. The reasons for this are many, but none are surprising. Firstly we’re all living longer, by as much as 10 years longer since the 1960’s. A lot of us are still working at 65 and want to continue to do so. Professions and skilled trades are desperate for people ‘with experience and old school training’ say the Pensions Commission to fill jobs the new graduate just has not been properly trained for. Nurses and teachers have to go beyond their own personal belief that they have a special ‘vocational call’ to do what they’re doing, and not opt out of ‘upgrading and new systems training,’ too many professional people are resting on their laurels, the Pensions Commission advises. And last but not least say the Commission is that pensions are costing more to pay out than what taxes bring in. As in the USA an imbalance is staring the UK government in the face just 30 years away. Along with the new higher retirement age comes a ‘voluntary savings & retirement’ scheme to be run by the UK government, similar to the excellent one in force in Canada. The UK version will allow a person to opt out over its inaugural years, but after about 10 years it should become compulsory. Some interesting figures: by 2020 over 25% of the population of the UK will be over 70, with another 25% at school. That leaves a mere 50% of the population left to do all the work and pay all the taxes! Moral of this story? Start a savings plan yourself NOW because you’ll need it when you retire.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ's)
Q: Will my un-indexed UK State Pension (Retirement Pension) be indexed in the near future?
A : Not in the foreseeable future. The UK State Pension for pensioners living in the UK will go through a complete overhaul in the coming years. Un-indexed pensions for Brits living abroad are not up for consideration. We estimate after 2008 there might be some 'review' of our pensions.
Q: Is it wise to give any more money to those Pension Groups who say they're going to take the matter to the European Courts even though the British House of Lords and Appeal Court have rejected our claims?
A: NO - a definite NO. DO NOT give any, ANY, of these fundraising groups money to further their wasted efforts to get courts & lawyers to tell the UK government what to do. That'll never work. It only makes matters worse.
Q: Will my pension ever be back-dated for all those un-indexed years I've been drawing it?
A: NO. NEVER. Your pension will never be back-dated. That would cost the UK government £2 billion pounds it is estimated to back-date everyones un-indexed pension. Even if you apply late for your pension now (say at 69 instead of 65) it is not back-dated. NOTHING will EVER BE back-dated. You were told your pension would be by those fundraisers in Australia and South Africa, which constitutes getting your money under false pretences. You were duped. NO MORE donations.
Q: If it is never going to be back-dated then will it be up-graded, when it is indexed?
A: YES. One day. Assume you have been drawing say £15 a week for say 10 years, and un-indexed pensions are then indexed, your £15 will like go up to about £25 a week, and, will increase annually with the UK's cost of living, about 2%, but remember, the UK pension you get is ALWAYS based on how long you originally lived in the UK.
Q: Like many Brits abroad I am thinking of returning home to retire. Will I get a FULL pension if I do go back?
A: NO. The State Pension (Old Age Retirement Pension) you will get will still be based on how long you previously lived and worked in Britain. It will however be a percentage of the CURRENT pension rate. See above question/answer.
Q: I was born in Britain and lived there many years but never worked there. Will I get a pension?
A: Very unlikely. Being born in Britain, like being born abroad somewhere when your parents were in the army etc, does not entitle you to a pension from that country. Same for Britain. You need to have had a National Insurance Number and to have paid stamps. There are a few, very few minor exceptions. Give Jim details.
Q: What is now the best route for us un-indexed UK pensioners living abroad to take?
A: Simple. There is only ONE route, ONE hope, ONE way to get our pensions indexed and that is to have representation by MP's on your behalf IN the UK government. We have obtained that. And it cost YOU nothing.
QUESTIONS? Send us an email: Britmail@aol.com subject 'Pensions.' But please, try to be explicit and polite! Not like this email that arrived November 6th 2005:
"i want information on pensions...i live in canada, and worked in England for over 20 years."
Received from an Alan Sealey somewhere in BC, Canada.
UK PENSIONS PAID TO BRITS ABROAD:
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR UN-INDEXED PENSION
The following information can be found in many of the leaflets the Department of Oveaseas Pensions in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne can forward to you if you use one of our links below. However, we have 'simplified' the basics so that you can calculate your pension and be fully aware of how the payment of pensions to overseas Brits is calculated. (the following is subject to change)
UN-INDEXED PENSIONS for those in CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND & RSA.
The pension you get from Britain is based on how long you lived & worked in the UK. The basic criteria for a FULL pension is based on a 44 year span for men, and a 39 year span for women. If you lived & worked in the UK for LESS than those periods you will get a PERCENTAGE of that full pension in most cases. The minimum percentage in operation NOW (not years ago) is 20%. Todays (early 2005) BASIC UK State pension for a male or female is £80 per week - basic - there are a lot of add-on benefits applicable in the UK only, to add to that. Therefore if you lived & worked in the UK for about 11 years minimum - male, 9.5 years female - you will receive an un-indexed pension of approximately £15 per week. Work out how long YOU lived & worked there, get a calculator, and you'll see how much you'll be due. There are variables, but the facts above are as near as can be broadly conveyed.
WHAT IF YOU RETURN TO THE UK?
If you have been drawing an un-indexed pension of say 30% that began in 1978, which would only be netting you now less than £6 per week (that little old lady in OZ the fundraisers use as an example) and you returned to the UK it would immediately go up to 30% of TODAYS PENSION - being thus, an increased payment to £23.23 per week.
WHAT IF ALL THOSE UN-INDEXED PENSIONS SUDDENLY GET INDEXED?
It would be the SAME as mentioned immediately above. If & when pensions do get indexed for ALL Brits abroad - (and they will - one day) ALL unindexed pensions will get indexed as if you had just returned to the UK. Like the old lady above. From £6 per week to £23.23 per week. Your PERCENTAGE is based on HOW LONG YOU LIVED & WORKED IN THE UK and will come into effect at that time and your pension paid to you overseas will rise accordingly. And that is what is causing ALL the problems with getting pensions indexed. There are 452,000 UK State Pensions being sent abroad every 4 weeks that are NOT indexed right now (March 2005) and the sudden up-dating would cost the UK government over £20 million in catch-up amounts. This IS NOT retroactive or back-dated, simply up-dating. Your pension will remain forever in that PERCENTAGE RATE of time & years you lived & worked in the UK. If you up and left the UK after putting in only 10, 15, or 20 working years remember, you're not entitled to a FULL UK pension. It doesn't work that way. And if we told them about all the disgusting things some of you have said about Britain - you wouldn't get a penny!! You are lucky to get that 25% minimum. :)
QUESTIONS? Send us an email: Britmail@aol.com subject 'Pensions.' Attention JIM ANDREWS.
THE ADDRESS OF THE UK PENSION SERVICE is:
The Pension Service,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE98 1BA
In brackets on envelope give indication of the question you're asking - such 'CLAIM FORMS PLEASE' etc etc. Be polite to these people. They handle over TWO MILLION pensions for Brits abroad. On ALL inquiries give them PLENTY OF INFORMATION. The following kind of inquiry gets you nowhere: "My name is Anne Brown, I left England in 1971, and now want to collect my UK pension."
Give them EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT YOURSELF! EVERYTHING. They're not mind-readers. They need INFORMATION in order to help you.
And be polite. You might think Britain is the last place on earth you'd ever want to visit but, you will be asking them for their money - so be polite. You'd be surprised how many exBrits go off the deep-end asking for their BY RIGHTS pension! Maybe you wouldn't, but some of the DEMANDING email questions we get here I'm glad those snotty exBrits are mostly in the far flung reaches of the old Empire. Like the following, received from Alan Sealey on November 6th 2005 who lives somewhere in BC, Canada:
"i want information on pensions...i live in canada, and worked in England for over 20 years."
CLAIM FORMS: Once you receive your claim forms from Newcastle you will need to send them these details and documents, so be ready: Birth certificate, marriage certificate, maiden name if divorced/remarried, date you left Britain, where you worked in Britain (last job), dates you worked in Britain, (just being born in Britain is not enough to get a UK State Pension), and your National Insurance Number. If you can not remember this last one they will trace it for you - but you must advise the last place or most recent place you worked in the UK. Forms take time to arrive (do not request them until you are very close to retirement age) and once sent off it can take months to start getting a payment. Answer ALL the questions in the forms - no blank spaces.
You can also e-mail me: Jim Andrews if you have just a basic question I might be able to handle right away or give you some indication where you stand - British UK Pension wise. We cannot help regarding all other UK pensions, or aditional benefits, only the old age, retirement, UK government State pension:
Britmail@aol.com subject 'Pensions' attention Jim Andrews. We have answers. We can get answers.
THE BRITS ABROAD PENSION ASSOCIATION.
Administered & Managed
Kenneth Seymour & Jim Andrews
We began in March 2004 a new approach to try to gain pension indexing for all those UK Ex-pat pensioners in CAN, OZ, NZ, and RSA, by securing the services of two UK Members of Parliament, whose bailiwick is that of UK pensions. We are now represented in the UK parliament. By joining our association, as a member without donation (Associate Member) or a member by donation (Supporting Member) you will help us to attend meetings in London that pertain specifically to OUR interests.
This is how you can join the PENSION ASSOCIATION. We have THREE catergories:
Associate Member. Requiring no donation but listing you as a member.
Supporting Member. Donate anything from $25 to $250 to help our expenditures.
Business Member. British businesses abroad who can donate $500 or more. These businesses will recieve a full business ad on our Home Page.
TOTAL DONATIONS SINCE
MARCH 21st 2004 to OCTOBER 31st 2005 $4,744.04
NET balance of $1,438.19 after deductions for expenses for Jim Andrews to travel to the UK last year (2004) to solicit parliamentary help - which he obtained.
Our contacts in Britain advise there is nothing new on the horizon regarding the indexing of pensions. There are no plans in progress for the revision of the British State Pension so our concerns remain firmly on the back burner - and even the burner is not lit. :)
The fund-raising pension groups who used the Annette Carson name to further their cause through the British courts are now turning their aim to the European Courts, and although they are still getting donations (senior homes where they conduct less than professional seminars) although those donations are drying up fast. A case for indexing on ‘human rights’ grounds through the European courts does not appear to be worth the money and effort, as any finding in Ms.Carson’s favour does not bind Britain to change their whole pension structure let alone actually index pensions. I'm informed a new fund-raising pension group has re-formed from an old one in New Zealand. Please keep your money in your pocket.
I will be back in Britain next April for two weeks to go the usual rounds with our parliament representatives, but the reality of all of this indexing thing coming to fruition in the coming years is a pipe dream. We still get lots on inquiries here at Brits Abroad from new retirees in the un-indexed countries, not about indexing but about getting any pension from Britain however small. Our British immigrants spread around the world are only coming to their ‘pension senses’ as they reach retirement age, which just goes to prove that getting worked up about a fully indexed pension after you retire is hardly the time to start the cause.
More after Christmas.
Jim Andrews. Pensions.
BRITS ABROAD has donated $1,000, being $500 from myself, Ken Seymour, and $500 from our 'Pensions' and feature editor Jim Andrews. Your donations will be added to the above box. A quarterly 'STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT' will be made available to ALL members who donate money. Email us and we will 'attach' a copy of our updated monthly 'statement of account.'to your email address or private address.
NO EXPENSES will be deducted for such things as internet costs, office costs, computer & printer costs, mail, personal 'out of pocket' costs, or any cost that is not DIRECTLY related to the travel to & from London, being, air fares, hotels, meals, inner-city transportation, and associated fees & taxes. We will only raise money to offset 'getting there and getting back.'
Kenneth Seymour, Editor/Publisher, and, Jim Andrews, Pensions: Email us at: Britmail@aol.com subject: Pensions
HOW DO YOU REGISTER? Email us with your 'Okay I'm In' and we'll put you on our list as an Associate Member - needs no donation.
HOW DO YOU DONATE AND WHY? As a 'Supporting Member' or 'Business Member' send a cheque (Canadian, UK, and US cheques only) otherwise a money order (in Canadian currency) - (no credit cards accepted) to:
BRITS ABROAD, Pension Association,
PO BOX 316, Rosedale, British Columbia, Canada, VOX 1XO.
made payable to: Brits Abroad (Pension Association) We will send a receipt and a current STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT. And, on the Statement of Account showing ALL the funds we receive and where they go, you will have my personal home telephone number. We're going to be upfront and in touch. Your donations are to pay for one of us to travel to the UK at least once a year to keep in close support with our two MP's who are fighting for US in the UK parliament. Not everything can be done by email.
INDEXING - WHERE TO NOW??
The Law Lords have said no. The High Court and the Appeals Court have said no. What now Brutus? Should we take our fight to the European Court. No. Why? Even if we got a ruling in our favour it can't be enforced. We have to rely on someone in the UK government putting our case forward. We - have two MP's doing that. And we're told it won't happen in this governments term, they have too much to do on pensions IN the UK to worry about ours. It'll be 2008 or after before our case is even tabled in the House of Commons, let alone get passed. Our advice is - NO MORE handing over your money to these fundraisers, it will not do anything for YOU or for INDEXING pensions. And as so many of you have parted with your money, believing your overdue indexing would be backdated - be assured it won't. It never will be. When the time comes to index our pensions they'll be up-graded but not backdated. Don't let those shysters out there tell you anything different. Up-grading isn't backdating. And even indexing will only add 2% to 3% to your annual pension. I know, it's not fair, but realise this, our fight for fair play, however justified, is not even in the top ten of what the UK government has to get done in the next four years. We're on a back-burner, and the flame just went out !!
Ken Seymour. Brits Abroad Pension Association.
THE FUND RAISING GROUPS ACTIONS:
The Law Lords at the Court of Appeal in London have rejected Ms. Annette Carson's claim that ALL UK state pensions should be indexed in accordance with those paid to Brits in the US and elsewhere. Lords Hoffman, Nicholls, Rodger, and Walker voted to reject the appeal whereas Lord Carswell determined that not paying her an indexed British pension does cause it to be 'an unlawful discrimination under the European Convention of Human Rights.' Lord Hoffman made the argument that, quote: 'The primary function of social security benefits, including state retirement pensions, is to provide a basic standard of living for the inhabitants of the United Kingdom.' The fund raising pension groups around the world will continue their fund raising to finance an appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in the coming year.
Nicholas Blake, QC, for the British pensioner Annette Carson, said there were 900,000 pensioners living abroad and about 480,000 did get the increase because they had moved to countries in Europe or to nations such as the US, Barbados, Mauritius, Turkey, Bermuda, Jamaica or Israel. But those who went to Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Australia, Zimbabwe or South Africa did not.
Mrs Carson is asking Lords Nicholls, Hoffmann, Rodger, Walker and Carswell to overturn the ruling of the Court of Appeal in June 2003 which itself rejected her appeal against a High Court ruling in May 2002, which turned down her claim.
Mr Blake told their Lordships: "The pension should not devalue so as to become useless.''He said it should make no difference whether you decided to retire in the UK or in South Africa: free movement and the right to life were fundamental rights.He claimed the Court of Appeal erred in treating the cost of uplifting the pensions as relevant and failed to have "proper regard'' to Mrs Carson's fundamental human rights - her right not to be discriminated against and her right to free movement.
John Howell, QC, for the Government, claimed that the approach of Mrs Carson assumes that pensions must be payable to those who have made contributions irrespective of whether they choose to live in Britain, and that pensions payable must have equality of value in whatever country individuals choose to live, including the most expensive countries, regardless of the financial and economic costs involved. He said there was no statutory right to a pension and it was wrong to say it was not a discretionary feature.
The OZ, Canadian, and South African Fundraising Groups have been at it again. They're touring old folks homes and putting them on guilt trips about not supporting their fundraising. Don't buy it or give them anything. The Annette Carson 'human rights' case went to the House of Lords Appeal Court in the UK on February 28th 2005, and although she doesn't openly back the pension groups, they are raising money constantly (their only function) in her name to pay the fees of the lawyers and their own personal constant 'observation' trips to the UK. The Appeals Court ruled against her, finding it will take a government motion to change the UK pension laws, not the UK courts. This won't happen this year, or indeed for years and years to come. I wished her luck anyway and now all those fund raising agencies around the world will go about this problem correctly - get proper representation in the UK parliament. I just wish they had a nice word to say about Britain. Because they don't. Pity. Jim Andrews.