In a devastating decision by the European Court of Human Rights, it seems that pensions will remain frozen for thousands of British expat retirees living in the likes of Canada and Australia.  This most unfair of situations is ongoing despite the fact that the British government always prides itself on justice, truth and fairness for all.  What a joke.

Britons who move abroad in retirement and choose to live in Commonwealth or former Commonwealth countries have their British pensions frozen.  They are not index linked like the pensions that retirees in England receive, they are not index linked like the pensions that expat retirees who move to France or Spain receive, and what’s more, there is very real and compelling evidence to show that of those affected by this situation, many end up on means tested benefits in their new nation because they cannot survive.

A strong lobby group has been campaigning for the overhaul of this ridiculous and unfair system for many years, and their latest efforts took them to the European Court of Human Rights.  However their claim was rejected…

The claim was that the British authorities’ actions in freezing some pensioners income and not others – purely based on the nation to which the individual chose to retire – was ‘discriminatory and in breach of the Human Rights Act.’  And in our opinion at Degtev, there is no argument.  How can you freeze person A’s pension just because they go and live in Canada and index link person B’s pension just because they go and live in Spain for example?  It is RIDICULOUS, pure and simple!  However, with a majority of 6 to 1, the ECHR threw out the claim.  Why?  Probably because they British government made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that it can’t actually afford to index link the estimated 525,000 frozen pensions.

Thankfully the lobby group is not giving up, they are expected to launch an appeal.  And they have many strong voices behind their claims, for example, Leck Garlicki, the Polish president of the ECHR chamber has said that: “considerations of social justice and equity require that persons who have duly contributed towards the pensions of others should not be treated differently in the subsequent calculation of their own pension.  Differential treatment based solely on current residence has no link to the contributory nature of pensions and, therefore, is deprived of a reasonable justification.”

No one in their right mind can have any reason to refute the claims of those affected that they are being discriminated against because of where they choose to live.  Not one of the individuals affected is asking for anything they are not entitled to – after all, they are only asking to receive the level of state pension benefit that they contributed towards all of their working lives.  If you’re actively contemplating a move abroad in retirement, you need to factor in what you will receive from the British government in the form of a state pension – although if you’re below the age of 40 you’re probably never going to see any form of state pension because the government is finding it harder and harder to afford!

Our advice is that for those who can, make your own financial savings plans for your retirement, don’t rely on unfair and unstable government policy to provide for you in years to come.