Petition calls for expat pensioners to get same payments as those who stay in UK
Many pensioners who live abroad see their income frozen at the rate it was when they left the UK.
Retired expats calling for an end to a squeeze on their pensions have handed in a 200,000-signature petition to Downing Street.
Around 520,000 expats have had their pension frozen at the level it was at when they left the UK, rather than being increased in line with payments to those who remained in the country.
Second World War veteran Anne Puckridge, a 93-year-old who emigrated to Calgary in Canada in 2001 to be near to her daughter, was among the group of expats and campaigners who delivered the petition on Wednesday.
She currently receives a weekly state pension of £72.50 instead of the £125.95 she would be entitled to if she had stayed in the UK.
Speaking outside Downing Street, Mrs Puckridge branded the pension freeze “discriminatory”.
She added: “It is a really cruel law because it is leaving people spending their old age in poverty.
“We are saving the country money by not using medical services.
“It would make life much more comfortable and my quality of life would improve considerably.”
Her campaign will continue “until I die”, she added.
The petition, which was started by Mrs Puckridge’s daughter Gillian Mittins, states that elderly expats are being “short-changed”.
“They paid in. Now the government should pay out,” it adds.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said that uprating the pensions of expats in line with those paid to UK retirees would cost £500 million per year.
He added: “The policy on paying and uprating UK state pensions abroad has remained consistent for around 70 years under successive governments.
“The UK state pension is payable worldwide to eligible people but is only uprated abroad where there is a legal requirement to do so.”
Around 95% of expats with “frozen” pensions live in Commonwealth countries including Canada and Australia.
However pensioners who have moved to the European Economic Area (EEA) are entitled to the same pensions as those living in the UK, along with pensioners living in countries including the United States who have a reciprocal agreement with the UK.
Before handing in the petition the campaigners lobbied politicians in Parliament, and MPs including Dennis Skinner, Johnny Mercer and Ian Blackford added their names, organisers said.
Nearly 219,000 people signed the petition.