Pension poverty scandal of our Windrush expats
MANY of the Windrush generation who spent their working lives in Britain and retired overseas are forced to live on poverty pensions.
Campaigners say it is a scandal that people who retire do not receive annual increases, despite having paid their taxes during their decades living in Britain.
Monica Philip, 81, came to the UK in 1959 and worked for the Ministry of Defence. She returned to Antigua to look after her mother in 1996 and receives just £74.11 a week.
This is less than half the full state pension of £175.20 per week.
In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, she said: “I do not believe I should be punished for returning to Antigua and Barbuda, a Commonwealth country, in this way.”
She pointed out that her sister, who remained in Leicester, receives the full state pension. She added: “I was not told when I came to the UK that this would mean I would be denied my full state pension if I were to return home to family.
“I believe that I, and the half-amillion UK pensioners overseas whose pensions reduce in real value every year, deserve justice.” Last month the Home Secretary launched a working group to address challenges faced by the Windrush generation and their descendants.
These were people who came to the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 when the country faced severe labour shortages.
Ms Philip wants Ms Patel’s group to investigate the plight of all pensioners who return or move to a country that does not have a reciprocal benefits agreement with the UK – among them Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. It means pensions are kept at the same rate as when the claimant leaves the country – regardless of the steady cost of living rises.
A spokesman for the End Frozen Pensions Campaign said: “This disgraceful policy continues to punish hardworking former public servants, like Monica, who made our country what it is today.this is shameful.”
Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, also called for change. She said: “It’s hugely unfair that people who have made their National Insurance contributions all their lives in the UK should miss out because they have retired abroad. State pension increases should be paid to all UK pensioners wherever they live.”
Streatham Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-addy, who has raised the issue in Parliament, said: “If you pay into the system in the same way as everyone else you should receive the money in the same way as everyone else, wherever you live.”
The Department for Work and Pensions says it would cost more than £3billion over five years to change overseas pensions policy. A spokesman said: “The Government continues to up-rate state pensions overseas where there is a legal requirement to do so – for example in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that allows for up-rating.”