19 March 2010

The Ex-Pat Pensions Con

I don’t receive a government (old age) pension yet. There’s another six years at least before that indignity befalls me but the ruling the other day by the European Court of Human Rights whereby ex-pats who have moved to non-EU countries such as Australia, Canada and South Africa will not receive increases that everybody else in the EU gets, is absurd.

And before you say, ‘quite right – they’ve moved elsewhere – they shouldn’t get it’, just remember that these people paid their subscriptions like everybody else and some even continued to pay their dues after they had moved abroad.

This has been a long-running dispute and was brought by 13 pensioners who have fought the issue at every stage of British and European law. Having now exhausted the last stage of the legal process they will now have to exist on annually decreasing pensions (due to inflation) with some receiving a miserly £25 a week whilst the ‘normal’ person gets £95.

There are approximately 540,000 pensioners in around 150 countries who are affected by this ruling and one old lady who moved to South Africa in 1989 has ‘lost’ the equivalent of £100,000 over the years.

Even government ministers declared the ruling ‘illogical’ but hamstrung by their lord and masters desire to hang on to every last penny, they have been particularly silent on the matter.

Before the ruling on Tuesday, I was absolutely convinced that the European Court would throw out the British Government’s case (not to award increases) but in a baffling statement they said, ’that denying pension increases did not breach a human rights convention declaration that "the enjoyment of (convention) rights and freedoms shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status’.

What really bugs me is that some layabout who has never worked in his or her life gets their contributions paid for by the state and so when the time comes, they will pick up a nice little pension, with annual increases for doing absolutely nothing.

Similarly, a Latvian or an Estonian who wanders across a few borders and ‘settles down’ in the UK for a few years and doesn’t earn very much but rakes it in in benefits will also receive a Pension Credit so they can live comfortably in their old age.

The world is crackers. The UK Government is crackers but of course they’re all on their inflation proofed pensions so they don’t really have to worry too much!

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