Frozen pension: Pensioner says her situation is 'unfair'
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State pensioners typically expect an annual increase to their sum, however, this is not guaranteed. This issue is known all too well by Monica Philip, who was born in Antigua, previously a British colony.
While Ms Philip was raised on the island, everything changed for her in 1959.
She became part of the Windrush Generation – Caribbean people who travelled to the UK to find work.
She told the End Frozen Pensions Campaign: “I went to the UK in 1959 because they wanted people to work there after the war to help build England back up.
“I said: ‘Well, I am British, and I speak English.’ So, I went.”
Upon her arrival in England, Ms Philip set about looking for work.
She explained that as a young woman, she had never worked for anyone before.
However, she soon found work, first for the Corporation of London, and then moving on to work as a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence.
In total, Ms Philip worked for some 37 years in the UK, making National Insurance contributions and paying tax.
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After her work in the UK, Ms Philip made the decision to retire.
Her choice was motivated by a desire to return to Antigua to care for her elderly mother.
However, she found her pension was then frozen at the rate it was when she left the UK.
As a result, she now receives a state pension of just £74 per week.
Due to moving back to Antigua, which is a Commonwealth country, it has not been uprated since.
Ms Philip said: “I think you really should be paid according to what you are told.
“They said when you work, you have to pay your taxes. They take what they think is theirs, and when you retire at a certain age you will get a pension. But we weren’t told it would be linked to where you go when you decide to retire.”
Ms Philip’s case is not uncommon, as it relates to the historic frozen pensions policy.
The policy is a result of reciprocal arrangements agreed between a handful of countries and the UK to allow for state pension uprating.
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The state pension will only be increased in:
- The UK
- European Economic Area (EEA)
- Countries with a social security agreement with the UK (but not Canada or New Zealand).
Those who do not fall into this category will see their state pension “frozen”, meaning it falls in value as it does not keep pace with inflation.
The End Frozen Pensions Campaign has described this as an “arbitrary postcode lottery”, and estimates 500,000 people are impacted across the globe.
The group has campaigned for the Government to change its policy, and provide increases to pensioners living abroad.
Ms Philip concluded: “I expected to get the same pension as everybody else. I would say this is unfair. They asked me to work and pay tax – they didn’t ask me if I wanted to pay tax, they took it until I reached state pension age. I think they have broken their promises.”
A DWP spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “We understand that people move abroad for many reasons and we provide clear information about how this can impact on their finances.
“The Government’s policy on the uprating of the UK state pension for recipients living overseas is a longstanding one of more than 70 years and we continue to uprate state pensions overseas where there is a legal requirement to do so.”
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