Partial Uprating - Another Government Con Trick!

Is Partial Uprating a Solution?

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Frozen British Pensions exists “to bring together parliamentary supporters of the case to unfreeze frozen British State Pensions Overseas and to campaign for reform on this issue”. APPG has suggested that partial uprating could be “a solution”. Let’s look at APPG’s suggestions … and the facts:

APPG Statements:

The Facts:

There are many ways to end frozen pensions

There are not many ways to end frozen pensions; the only way is to cancel the infamous clause from Treasury vocabulary to enable parity to happen at the next Budget.

Traditionally organisations such as the International Consortium of British Pensioners … have campaigned for pension equality

ICBP is just one organisation (despite the ‘International’ sobriquet) which speaks only for Canadians; why is APPG concentrating on ICBP and Canadians when there are many more of us campaigning around the world? Is there some sort of deal going on here (bearing in mind that Canadians get some recompense from the Canadian government, which others around the world do not).

Successive governments have refused to act to end the current policy on the grounds of cost, fear of legal claims for back payment and the fact that however strong the moral case, there is no legal obligation on them to do so

In the debate on ring-fencing 0.7% of GDP for overseas aid (£2 billion plus), MPs said that Britain is a rich country and that £2 billion plus in overseas aid is justified and made them ‘proud’.

There are no cost grounds for not paying pension parity. The NI Fund holds an amount in excess of £20 billion and if MPs are ‘proud’ of spending £2 billion on overseas aid, they should be ‘shamed’ at failing to deliver pension parity for a cost of £560 million.

The threat of legal claims is a red herring. No pensioner group has the resources for legal claims and frozen pensioners just want the pensions they paid for, payable now!

There is a legal obligation through the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Articles 9-12); it’s just that MPs are good at overlooking legal responsibilities when they want to.

The APPG on Frozen British Pensions recognise that financial times are tough, so we are committed to promoting solutions to the frozen pension policy that are both affordable and deliverable now

Apparently financial times are not so tough as to question spending £2 billion plus on spurious overseas aid projects in questionable countries. How many minutes did it take for MPs to vote £150 million plus to bomb Syria; how many millions are being spent trying to keep Jack Straw (and Tony Blair) from the International Criminal Court?

Britain is a rich country – it can afford to uprate frozen pensions now; it is only political will that is preventing it.

Partial Uprating would involve a positive policy decision to introduce annual uprating to all currently frozen pensions going forward, but from their current rate only

This heaps discrimination on top of discrimination; the longest suffering pensioners would get far less than currently retiring pensioners, and parity would never be achieved. For example, a 2% increase in one year would give as little as 60p a week to some, and as much as £7 a week to others.

Partial uprating would benefit all currently frozen pensioners immediately by ending the real terms year-on-year decline of their state pensions

This is a typical Conservative answer to everything – give more to those who have more, and take more from those who have little. As shown above, the pensioners with the highest existing pensions would get even more while those with the lowest existing pensions would get almost nothing. Clearly some would benefit a great deal more than others.

It would remove the problem completely for future retirees, removing a significant barrier to pensioner emigration from the UK, including for a significant number ethnic minorities now approaching retirement

This is a cynical attempt to divide frozen pensions in the fight for parity. Currently retiring pensioners would get pension parity and therefore have no need to join in the fight.

It is also an attempt to harness the savings to be made from emigration (£3,800 per head) while ignoring that same saving already benefiting the government from existing retirees.

It is also immoral, unethical and un-Christian to adopt a policy which aims to solve the problem by awarding parity to currently retiring pensioners while waiting for present frozen pensioners to die. This is a disgrace!

At an estimated upfront cost of just £37 million – miniscule in government spending terms – Partial Uprating option offers an affordable and expeditious policy alternative that could be implemented in the current financial climate

If the government wants to spread the cost over time, why does it not agree to achieve parity over a five-year period? In other words, pay everyone 20% of the difference between their existing pensions and the current rate (plus the annual uprate on the new amount) for the next five years.

That would cost around £100 million only each year and pension parity would be achieved by April 2021; also every pensioner would benefit fairly, according to the years suffered.

Partial Uprating would actually generate immediate net savings for the Treasury through consequent savings, including those made through increased pensioner emigration. The Government currently estimates that there is a £3,800 a year saving for each pensioner who moves abroad in retirement

So, the Treasury wants the benefit of emigration savings while ignoring the benefit it already receives from past emigration?

The £3,800 a year also applies to frozen pensions having to return to UK – that (plus an immediately uprated pension) is the cost of every pensioner who comes to the point of not being able to manage on a non-uprated pension and has to return to the UK. Those people then put pressure on an already overloaded NHS and on already shaky housing availability.

There is a clear precedent for the implementation of Partial Uprating. It is the approach that was taken when the UK signed historic reciprocal agreements with countries such as the USA and Barbados

A statement in the House of Commons and a Freedom of Information response has clearly ascertained that a reciprocal agreement is not legally necessary for the payment of uprated pensions. Continually repeating this falsehood is merely DWP obfuscation – it matters nothing what is contained in ‘historic’ reciprocal agreements because their presence is not required to pay pension parity.

There should be no legal risk of back payment claims (as with full uprating) as there is no implied recognition of historic entitlement. Partial Uprating is simply a forward policy change. Again, the precedent would support this

Full uprating is also simply a forward policy change – there is no difference between the two. The suggestion of legal risk is a red herring and an excuse for non-action; no pensioner or pensioner organisation has the means or the intent to pursue any legal claim once full uprating is achieved

There is no need for bilateral agreements to be negotiated to move things forward … the UK is free to make unilateral changes to meet what are now international norms regarding overseas pensioners

A statement in the House of Commons and a Freedom of Information response has clearly ascertained that a reciprocal agreement is not legally necessary for the payment of uprated pensions. Bilateral agreements are not a reason for paying uprates - they are merely an excuse for not paying. Continually repeating this falsehood is merely DWP obfuscation

There is a legal obligation (giving standards for international norms) through the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Articles 9-12); Britain is failing to comply with the requirements of this international covenant it signed

Partial Uprating would be very straightforward to deliver

The most straightforward policy to deliver would be to delete the offending clause from the next Budget statement and pay pension parity from April 2017. Every other option is less straightforward

 Partial uprating as described by the APPG website is NOT a solution. It is a cop-out and a cover up. It hits hardest the oldest and longest-suffering pensioners, many of whom fought in WW2 and then returned to help rebuild a shattered Britain, paying into the NI Fund all their working lives. That is a disgrace! 

It is an extremely cynical, callous, immoral, unethical and un-Christian proposal which aims at solving the problem by waiting for pensioners to die. That is not acceptable to any decent, caring, Christian person.

It is also a typical Conservative option: give to those who have more and keep from those who have little – bear in mind that private pension schemes were few and far between when many of our older pensioners retired many years ago. And let us not overlook its real intention - to divide those of us who have suffered years of frozen pensions from the currently retiring who would never experience frozen pensions – more discrimination piled on top of existing discrimination!

Worse than all the above is that it is betrayal of Biblical proportions; those who have contributed over the years to the fight for parity will be sidelined for a pittance of pennies while the currently-retiring will walk away with full pensions from the start and contribute to nothing.

The cockerel is crowing!