Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Expats lose pension freeze case: Your stories

retired couple

More than half a million UK pensioners living overseas will continue to have their pensions frozen after a European court decision.

Pensioners who moved to countries such as Australia and Canada only receive the level of pension paid at retirement - which might be only £6 per week.

The European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal from a group of pensioners who wanted to receive increases in line with inflation.

Expats have been getting in touch with the BBC about what they think of the ruling.


I have been very angry about this situation for many years.

I came to Australia at the age of 41 and starting collecting my pension at the age of 62.

Glenys Blades
Glenys has been angry about the situation for many years

I get a third of the British pension, which I think is fair. All I want is for that pension to rise in relation to prices.

Since I retired the cost of living has gone up considerably. Also, my husband and I lose money because of the drop in the pound in relation to the dollar.

We don't have a lot of savings, and what we do have is being rapidly used up.

I believe this latest ruling is criminal. Not only did I contribute without there being any alternative, I also had to pay extra money because of my salary level in the UK at the time.

We thought National Insurance was just that - an insurance and pensions' scheme. So it is not now fair for the government to say they don't have enough money to cover the cost of all pensions.


David James and sons

I am a teacher in Japan and I have been living here with my wife and children for nine years.

I think the court ruling is very unfair. I am not paying tax in the UK, but I am not using the NHS, my children are not educated in UK, nor do I drive on UK roads - so why shouldn't I receive an index-linked pension?

I am probably contributing more than many people in the UK. When I occasionally return, I contribute to the UK economy by spending money at restaurants and on hotels.

It's my right to pay National Insurance contributions. But even that will go up. I recently received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions that said my contributions will greatly increase from April.

I can always stop paying but in the future, I may decide to return to the UK. I think it's risky not to contribute. Also, if I were to stop now, I wouldn't get a state pension.

I'm not entitled to claim for benefits such as unemployment benefit, but I am entitled to the state pension, and I think it is wrong that it will not be index-linked.


I first moved to Canada in 1969 to work for a British company out there, but returned to the UK in 1983 to run my own business. My children were all born and grew up in Canada, and although they moved back to the UK with us, they all returned to Canada, so it made sense for us to move back to Canada ourselves in 1994. Our whole family is here now and I have dual nationality.

Although my wife and I didn't make any voluntary National Insurance contributions the first time we moved to Canada, because the option was not available, since moving back in 1994, we have both made voluntary payments to the UK system. My pension, which I only recently started receiving, remains frozen after the ruling today.

The court should make its judgement on the merits of the case not on a monetary basis

None of it makes any sense. They say that people who live abroad don't contribute to the country but those who have moved to the US for instance don't contribute either but still get their pensions indexed. What is the difference? It should be noted that pensioners living overseas are not draining the country's resources and are actually saving the country money.

Some say Britain couldn't afford to pay the extra pension money, but the court should make its judgement on the merits of the case not on a monetary basis. In this case, I feel the court has made a monetary decision. This becomes especially clear when you consider the matter of back pay. Were the government to agree to index all expat pensions, there would be a huge amount of back pay called for. Some people receive really tiny pensions after all and would be due large amounts of money to make up the difference over many years.

For me, the weakest part of the British position is that they can't claim they pay no one abroad - they pay many expats an indexed pension, but only if they live in a few select countries.


My wife is Brazilian, so when I retired in the UK six years ago, it made sense for us to move to Brazil. My wife's family are all here and two of our four children moved over with us.

It makes you feel like they just ignore you and forget you – you’re just a nice little budget reduction

I believe this ruling persecutes British subjects who leave the country. If they were all to come back to the UK, I'd hate to see Gordon Brown's deficit then! I think the government is hiding behind an archaic law and a European court ruling. I deserve to be paid a proper pension - I worked and paid income tax for 49 years in the UK.

If I moved back to the UK now, I could not only claim a greater pension but other benefits too, which would cost the government a lot more than just paying me an indexed pension. And considering how much the government have wasted on other projects, the amount needed to provide us all with indexed pensions would be insignificant.

It makes you feel like they just ignore you and forget you - you're just a nice little budget reduction.


Maria Surry (right) served in the ATS

I was very disappointed in this ruling which affect both myself and my mother. I did not work in the UK long enough to receive a full pension, and mine is frozen at the level I was awarded in 2007. However, my mother served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the war and worked in England for 20 years. Her pension is frozen at the level she received 25 years ago and as the value of the pound has fallen, her pension is worth even less.

My mother was very upset when she heard the decision. We have both been following the case since it started. The issue is not that those who retired abroad should receive the same as UK pensioners. We would not expect to get winter fuel payments for example. It is the basic inequity that retirees living in the USA, for instance - about 30 minutes as the crow flies from where my mother lives in Ontario - do receive the cost of living adjustments.

I can understand that for legal reasons people living in the EU should get the same as people in the UK but outside the EU I think all countries should be treated the same. It is especially unfair considering there are so many expats living in Canada and Australia.

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