1st April saw the very successful launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pensions Reform in the Commonwealth Association Room in the House of Commons. Sheila Telford, Dave Morris and Brian Leggett from ICBP were there.

Unfortunately, due to health reasons, John Markham who first mooted the idea of this APPG was unable to make the trip. The Head of Political Strategy of our media consultancy had put a great deal of time working on the launch and everything came together as planned.

An APPG group is a formal structure within Westminster, consisting of at least 20 Parliamentarians, of which 10 have to be from the government party and 10 from the opposition. It is used to formally lobby the government, and to promote the interests of the particular topic for which it was formed – in our case, frozen pensions.

This new APPG is headed by Sir Roger Gale (Conservative), with vice chairs Dame Anne Begg (Labour), and Lord German (Lib Dem).

The launch was extremely well attended, with other MPs, Members of the House of Lords, the media, and representation from groups such as Age UK, The TUC, the National Pensioner Association, and the Canadian and Australian High Commissions.

Both the Chair and Vice Chairs spoke very forcefully about the issue. Dave Morris, ICBP Director and Chairman of CABP also was on the Panel, and had the opportunity to address the audience.

The Parliamentarians who are involved with this Group are as passionate as we are about the need to unfreeze pensions and it is most encouraging to now have a voice within Westminster, instead of always being on the outside trying to make politicians listen.
Sir Roger Gale, the Chairman of the Group stated that they now need to amass the information they have and figure out how to move forward. The ICBP have offered to undertake any research they require as their own resources are limited. It is important that we attempt as far as we can, to persuade enthusiastic supporters not to overwhelm the APPG panel with information so that, hopefully, communications with the APPG can be coordinated through ICBP.

Following the launch, there was strong, supportive, media coverage.
http://www.independent.co.uk/money/pensions/simon-read-mps-of-all-parties-join-fight-for-justice-for-uk-pensioners-with-frozen-pensions-9240021.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/10738685/Expat-state-pension-rises-David-Cameron-sympathetic-to-calls-for-end-to-freezing.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/pensions/article-2595326/Expats-pay-inferior-state-pension-ups.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

 

The success of this event was followed by private meetings with Lord  John Shipley and Lord Mike German, who gave us the benefit of their advice on what issues we should consider uppermost . Lord German believes for example that the Government are scared of the cost of backdating, if they were to concede unfreezing.
On Thursday 3rd April we were able to meet with the staff of the Canadian High Commission in London to discuss the frozen pensions policy. The Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Alan Kessel confirmed to us that it is firmly Canada’s practice to fully brief every Canadian politician who visits the UK in order for them to keep raising the issue of frozen pensions. At the APPG launch, the Head of Political and Economic Branch of the Australian High Commission affirmed that this is also the policy of the Australian Government.

It was evident that other countries besides Canada and Australia also need to become similarly active.

It is important that other ‘frozen’ pensioners around the world to do everything they can where they live to persuade their national government to take political action against pension freezing.  Their domestic economies will become increasingly affected as more and more baby boomers in Britain seek to retire to frozen countries such as New Zealand, South Africa, Japan (already home to the fifth-largest group of frozen pensioners), India, Pakistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and other Caribbean nations.

Comments

  1. Keith Darby says:

    My wife and I have lived in Panama for 6 years now and the cost of living continues it’s upward spiral but our pensions were frozen at the rate in force 6 years ago! After a recent burglary which cost us over $12,000 and 2 major car repairs costing over $4400 and ongoing Vet’s bills for our very sick dog (currently$450) we are literally living like paupers! We have cut out 1 meal a day and substituted cheaper inferior food for the other 2 meals! Even the dog is on restricted rations of an inferior brand of dog food!
    We haven’t been out to any form of Social living for over a year and that was not the intended path of our retirement! My wife desperately needs medical treatment (she has an ulcer which will not heal on her leg but we cannot afford the necessary treatment).
    To fill my car with petrol now costs over $44.00 (compared with $21.00 6 years ago – same car!) and our weekly grocery bill which used to average around $80 is rarely below $140 even with the restrictions we have placed on ourselves!
    We can’t vote in the upcoming elections but my daughter and her many friends and colleagues can and they will NOT vote for any party that does not support the unfreezing of Pensions. That is one thing we can be sure of!
    I read somewhere that the Government was afraid of having to pay “back pay” but we do not expect that in any way, Just do the right (and honorable) thing and unfreeze our pensions from a current date, let’s face it we are saving the Government around GBP3,800 per person in not using the health service and related items!

    Keith Darby

  2. BRIAN SUGDEN says:

    All success to the APPG, long past time to be rid of the payment anomaly. Two years ago we were preparing to move back to England as the strength of rand to the pound no longer provided sufficient rands to cover basic living costs. Whilst making our plans to return the rand took a tumble against the pound to an exchange rate that prevents us making the move. Although we are now in receipt of more rands for our pounds, cost of living increases here still outpace the greater number of rands. Life will certainly be more comfortable if we were to receive the correct British state pension.

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