Letter of support from Canadian Government

Dear Ms. Telford:

I am responding to your correspondence of March 9 and 12, 2013, concerning the United Kingdom’s (UK) policy of non-indexation for its pensions, particularly with regards to the major review of the British pension system and the recent signing of the Charter of the Commonwealth. I apologize for this delayed reply.

As you are aware, Canada has been a stalwart supporter of the efforts of British pensioners in Canada to secure indexation for their British pensions paid into Canada. A wide array of Canadian government officials, including Prime Ministers, Ministers, High Commissioners and Deputy Ministers, have raised the issue with their counterparts in the UK Government to no avail.  However, Canada remains engaged and willing to press its position for indexation at every appropriate opportunity.

To that end, I recently wrote a letter to the UK Minister for Works and Pensions to once again propose that, in light of the generational review of the British pension system, our respective officials meet to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement that would provide for the indexation of UK benefits. It is our Government’s position that UK’s review of its pension system is an ideal occasion to resolve this longstanding concern.

I would like to thank you and your organization for the vigilance you maintain in identifying appropriate opportunities to engage the UK.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

ICBP letter to UK politicians

icbp logo                      International Consortium of British Pensioners

                                                 c/o 202-4800 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario ON M9A 1B1

www.pensionjustice.org

Ms Maria Miller                                                                                     May 23rd, 2013

Minister for Women and Equalities

Dear Ms Miller

I am writing to you in my capacity as Chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, a group that represents the interests of almost 600,000 British Pensioners living abroad.

You were a member of the Inter Ministerial group that was responsible for the conceptual thinking that led to the creation of the Equality Act of 2010. I would like to congratulate you on the breadth of the vision that went into that Act, which must lead to a better society.

If I may, I would like to quote from the report of the Inter Ministerial group.

“We will work to protect and promote the rights of British citizens abroad and use our influence to change culture and attitudes and promote equality, leading by example.”

As British Citizens living abroad, we would like your support, and that of your colleagues on the group, in helping to end a long-standing discriminatory practice. It is a practice that can be ended literally by the stroke of a pen, and would stand out as a shining example of the commitment to actually practice equality, rather than just talk about it.

I am speaking of the discriminatory practice of selectively refusing to uprate state pensions paid to British Citizens who live in certain countries. Their pensions are frozen at the amount they first receive, for the rest of their lives, resulting in a 90 year-old pensioner getting about a third of the pension a 65 year-old pensioner, even living in the same frozen country.  We believe that this unequal treatment is a clear case of age discrimination.

The British Government has acknowledged that this is an anomaly, but that cost constraints do not allow it to be resolved at this time, even though the actual cost to resolve it is estimated to be less than 1% of current annual pension expenditures.

We recognise that there is a cost, although there have been economic studies done that show there are net savings to the UK if a pensioner emigrates to another country. More importantly, the UK Supreme Court has recently stated (O’Brien [Appellant] v Ministry of Justice 2013 UKSC 6,) thatbudgetary considerations [costs] cannot justify discrimination”

As you were one of the architects of the guiding principles of the Equality Act, we ask for your support in stopping this unfair and discriminatory treatment of British pensioners living abroad. All we ask is that you let us know that you agree that our cause is just, and that basic principles of equality are at stake.

Yours sincerely

Sheila Telford

Chairman, International Consortium of British Pensioners

 

Government of Canada Supports CABP

The Government of Canada believes it is unfair that British pensioners in Canada, who have contributed in good faith to the UK National Insurance Fund, do not receive the full benefits they deserve.

The 158,000 British pensioners who live in Canada have earned the right to be treated the same way as British pensioners living in most other countries around the world, including the United States.

Government officials at the highest levels understand the importance of this issue and continue to raise it at every opportunity.  Among the most recent efforts, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird raised the issue with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague during a meeting in London in January 2012.  I personally raised the issue of non-indexation directly with UK Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb, during a bilateral meeting in London in September 2011.

Canada believes that fairness is the fundamental issue here. I strongly believe that we must ensure that British pensioners receive the benefits to which they are entitled regardless of where they live.  Canadian legislation provides for the indexation of Canadian benefits regardless of country of residence, and such is the practice for most, if not all, other countries with comparable social security programs.

The Government of Canada feels strongly that this inequality needs to be addressed. We believe that the governments of our countries must work together to find concrete solutions, including the conclusion of a social security agreement that provides for indexation of benefits.

The Government of Canada has appealed frequently over the last 30 years to the UK Government to change its policy and to enter into the negotiation of an agreement that would facilitate indexing. That is why we continue to support the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP).

We salute the seniors who have paid into the UK system and who continue to fight to receive their fully indexed pensions, and we will continue to support them in their pursuit.