Fight to end poverty pensions for heroes who retired abroad
VETERANS are calling on the Government to end a policy of freezing pensions as VE Day approaches.
Backing them is actress Miriam Margolyes who said it was an injustice that some former servicemen and women who retired abroad now have to live on as little as £40 a week.
Campaign group End Frozen Pensions is highlighting the plight of those whose state pension is not up-rated to keep pace with inflation.
People who retired after 2016 now receive up to £175.20 a week.
But for others, the value of their pensions are frozen at the level they were when they left the UK, unless they moved to an EU state or a country with an alternative arrangement.
Miriam, 78, said: “Successive governments have persisted with a cruel policy of freezing the value of the UK state pension of people who leave the UK to settle abroad, often to be near family in their later years.
“This has plunged these pensioners, including our military veterans, into poverty. Some of those affected have been left to live on as little as £40 a week. We should all be ashamed that this pernicious policy has been allowed to affect so many of those whose service and sacrifice shaped the freedoms and world we enjoy today.”
The group’s book Broken Faith is dedicated to the memory of Bernard Jackson, who took part in the D-Day landings as an RAF wireless operator.
He moved to his dream home in Canada but had to return to the UK after his wife died because he could not live on his frozen UK state pension of £48 per week. He died two months ago, aged 97. End Frozen Pensions say that 520,000 people are affected by the pensions policy. Nine in 10 of these live in Commonwealth nations.
They include Patricia Coulthard, 98, who nursed troops evacuated from Dunkirk and served in India and Burma during the war. She gets £46 a week after moving to Australia to be close to her two children.
She said: “Like many of my generation, I am not one to overly complain about the circumstances in which I find myself, but the outbreak of coronavirus has brought into sharper focus the absurdity and immorality of the UK Government’s approach. I made my contributions expecting I’d be able to live a comfortable life in retirement.
“Instead, I am unable to afford the help I need during this crisis, including paying for someone to do my shopping and to help with cleaning.
“That many people are trying to live through this crisis on scandalously low pensions should leave our politicians deeply ashamed.”
Her outrage is shared by Second World War nurse Inez Minc, who is 98 and also lives in Australia.
She said: “As a result of the UK Government’s callous and cowardly frozen pensions policy, I receive just £40 from my pension. This despite making my contributions and serving my country. I, like many of my generation, served my country during its hour of need. Yet now in mine they have deserted me.”
End Frozen Pensions said on its website: “It is high time that the British Government upheld their end of the bargain.”
And Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow pensions minister, said: “It is absolutely wrong that those who fought for their country should be denied the pension they earned. Ministers should put this right.”
But the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The Government continues to up-rate state pensions overseas where there is a legal requirement to do so. It would cost taxpayers more than £3billion over five years to change course on an issue that’s been clear and settled policy for 70 years.”
For campaign information see www.endfrozenpensions.org