Chairmans Newsletter # 6 May 2013 

Quite recently you will have received #2 Justice but I feel an extra Newsletter is needed at this time to bring CABP members up-to-date as a lot has happened since that Justice went to print over a month ago.  

Firstly, I need to tell you that earlier this month, Tony Bockman, Chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners stood down as the Chair of ICBP. Tony has also indicated that he will not seek re-election to the CABP board at the upcoming AGM for personal reasons.  For well over a decade Tony has given unflinchingly and selflessly to the cause of frozen pensioners in his dual capacity as Chair of ICBP and past CABP Chairman and current board member.  His contribution has been outstanding and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.  An example of his passion for the cause shows in his recent letter (attached) to the Prime Minister David Cameron after his first letter

 ( #2 Justice, page 9) went unanswered, save for a form letter from the Pensions Minister’s office. Such a snub is an insult to “frozen” pensioners and Tony was ready with a strong response. Tony will be representing ICBP as a speaker at the National Pensioners Coalition meeting in Blackpool in June this year. 

Secondly, at a recent ICBP board meeting I was elected Chairman following Tony’s resignation.  I am looking forward to the challenge but Tony leaves huge shoes to fill.

The ICBP is considering initiatives to take in the UK as the Bill on Pension Reform moves through Parliament.  Our plight has not been addressed in the Bill as is and we need to draw attention to this. Also, the issue of Equality looms large and we aim to challenge the Government on this when the bill is debated in the House of Commons. 

The newly elected ICBP board agreed to move forward on a number of initiatives, some of which include: 

  • ·         Trying to establish an Ethnic and Minorities group in the UK. There is a significant number of ethnic minority pensioners who are discouraged from returning “home” because their pensions will be frozen.
  • ·         Preparing an informational DVD which will explain the case for unfreezing pensions for use in the UK
  • ·         Preparing for publicity surrounding our test claim of discrimination under the Equality Act
  • ·         Sourcing a documentary maker interested in our story
  • ·         Considering running candidate(s) in the next UK general election in constituencies of senior politicians, and/ or working with political parties to get frozen pensions as part of their manifesto
  • ·         Working for more publicity in the UK through articles in local UK newspaper networks
  • ·         Continuing to search for a stalwart “Champion” 

Of course, this is not exhaustive and other initiatives are always ongoing and there will continue to be particular need for real pressure on the Canadian and Australian governments 

Thirdly, I want you to know how important you are to the fight for unfreezing of pensions.

We are fighting for indexation for you and we need you to be there with us to add clout to our political actions. A big thank you to those members who continue to support us.  

We have noticed that many of our members have not yet renewed their membership for 2013, which is a great concern. We don’t know why this is, but we really need to be able to prevail in our fight for the unfreezing of pensions and the continued support of all our membership is vital to this. However, we are not going to win our fight for pension parity in Canada. We need to take it to the UK where we aim to influence politicians and members of the public to support our cause. For this, we need funds,  without which we will grind to a halt. Please make sure to renew your membership if you have not already done so.  It is critical to us and the crusade for pension equity. An additional contribution to our Action Fund will also be appreciated greatly(The renewal form is on page 15 of the Justice magazine.)

Sheila Telford

Chairman

Newsletter #4: March 2013

Latest Update from CABP Chairman Sheila Telford

By now you should all have received your copy of “Justice”.Feedback on articles is always welcomed by our skillful editor, Rosalind:  justice@britishpensions.com

Thank you to all who sent a submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee which is now convened in order to consider submissions. The Committee has been quite rigid in only admitting submissions made in the correct format and I am pleased that the submission made by me, on behalf of CABP, has been accepted and is now part of the  parliamentary archives. More important is that the Committee actually has taken account of our arguments in favour of unfreezing pensions.

Although I covered this in the last newsletter, there is a second kick at the can if you have not yet submitted a letter to the Pensions Bill Team. Please take the time to indicate to them how important it is to include the issue of frozen pensions in their deliberations on the White Paper.

The deadline is 22nd March 2013.

Please send your submission to the Pensions Bill Team by email and/or by mail to:

Pensions Bill Team, Department for Work and Pensions, 1st Floor Caxton House,

Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA.

pensions.bill@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Please also copy your emails to your ex-British MP and also your Canadian MP.

Recent ICBP activities

Thank you to all to members who responded to the email requesting you to ask family and friends in the area to support the unveiling of an ICBP billboard in the marginal Eastleigh constituency. Sadly, we didn’t get a great turn-out  at the unveiling but the good news is that the billboard and subsequent press advertisement in the local media garnered a great deal of attention and press coverage in the UK. The Liberal Democrats certainly took notice and were rattled by it! This was an opportunity for ICBP to show that we are prepared to take an aggressive political stance and show the British public that we have a message that they must heed. This is something we will build on for the future.

How Can We Trust March2013

Did you march in any of the Queen’s June 1953 Coronation parades? If so,

John Markham would like to hear from you. Please send  email to John at info@britishpensions.com with the header Coronation Parade and it will be forwarded.

Recent CABP Activities

BC branch members came out to support directors Bernard Jackson and Ian Andexser at the Zoomer show in Vancouver on 23rd and 24th February. The CABP booth was  most successful and a number of new members were recruited. Thank you to all who helped to make this a success.

Planning is in place for meetings on 16th March in Etobicoke and  on May 5th in Oshawa  in Ontario . There is a great deal of work going into updating the presentation that will be available at these meetings due to the constant flux of information coming in about the new single tier British pension from 2017. It is more important than ever that future British pensioners listen to what we have to offer. If you know of any one in this situation, living in the area, please encourage them to come with you to the meeting.

Our Marketing team tells us that the visits to the CABP website: www.britishpensions.com spiked after our  TV advertisements in BC. We have yet to see how this has translated into new members. The advertisement will air in Ontario on Sportsnet on Saturday 9th March and Saturday 16th March.

CABP member, Tony Mort, is interested in hearing from anyone who was employed in the UK by British Steel, particularly with service before 1988 and consequently has part of their occupational pension Guaranteed Minimum Payment (GMP) frozen. Please contact him directly at tonymortCABP@gmail.com

The issue of frozen pre- 1988 GMP applies to all occupational pension schemes, but Tony is determined to first tackle British Steel on the freezing of pre-1988 contracted out GMP and hopes to create a precedent for other occupational pension schemes.

CABP member, and ex- British Member of Parliament, Gordon Prentice writes a regular blog about political matters: you may be interested to see what he has to say about the ICBP Eastleigh by-election poster and the need to keep the pressure on marginal constituencies in the UK http://gordonprentice.com/index.php/component/content/article/1-blog/453-frozen-pensioners-campaign-in-eastleigh

Meanwhile, once again, may I thank everyone who has responded to requests for help, volunteered, spread the word about CABP, and renewed their membership. If you have not renewed, (and you will see the membership expiry date at the top of this newsletter),  please go to the website and renew online – it is quite simple to do. We need membership income, and welcome Action Fund donations, to be able to finance all the initiatives we are undertaking, including information meetings, TV ads in Canada and most importantly those in the UK, like the Eastleigh billboard, and subsequent newspaper advertisement. Memberships and donations are our life blood and we cannot operate without them.

Sheila Telford – CABP Chairman

Newsletter #3: Feb 2013

URGENT APPEAL – CABP NEEDS YOU TO ACT NOW!

This newsletter precedes a copy of “Justice”, which will reach you at the end of February, because we need action now by CABP members, (and their friends and families), to meet an early deadline of mid-February to write letters and emails to support our important inititiatives in the UK.

You will probably be aware that a White Paper on pension reform was published in the UK on 14th January. This outlines a generational change in the British pension system. Sadly, there is no mention of unfreezing pensions; however John Markham of the ICBP has been invited to make a written submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee on our behalf. Also, he has been advised he may be called at short notice to appear in person to give oral evidence. An analysis of the content of the White Paper will appear in the next Justice.

Now,we need your support !

Please check this link for the call to action to all frozen pensioners.

This link will give you Tony Bockman’s suggestions on what to include in your email: http://pensionjustice.org/news/give-your-mp-an-earful/

But since you are on email, there are two possibilites of having input:

The first deadline is 15th February, 2013:  please send an email to the Work and Pensions Select Committee ( details of how to do this are here):

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/pls/

Second deadline is 22nd March 2013

Please send a submission to the Pensions Bill team by email and/or by mail to:

Pensions Bill Team, Department for Work and Pensions, 1st Floor Caxton House,

Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA. pensions.bill@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Please copy your emails to your ex-British MP and also your Canadian MP.

E petition for a dedicated MP for expatriate Britons

We would like to draw your attention to an e-petition seeking names in support of the idea of a dedicated MP for expatriate Britons. It is interesting, that in a debate in the House of Lords last month, Lord Lipsey was of the opinion that expatriate Britons should not be allowed the vote after 15 years because they would just vote for candidates supporting the notion of unfreezing pensions: “However, we must understand that conceding this would not be favourable to the British taxpayer!”  This is a shocking denial of democracy. He is saying, don’t let them have the vote because they might vote for something we don’t like!

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43238

And, now for the rest of what has been going on!

Recent ICBP Activities

William Hague, the British Foreign Minister visited Australia and New Zealand and ICBP used this opportunity to question him on the frozen pensions issue. I, on behalf of CABP, immediately got in touch with Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, asking him to contact his Australian, and New Zealand, counterparts to add his voice of protest about frozen pensions.

We, in Canada have  also been in touch with senior civil servants who handle the frozen pensions file and have had some very encouraging support.We are currently trying to persuade the Canadian Government to submit their input into the White Paper on Pension reform. We believe that input from a foreign government would have great impact. They have described the frozen pension issue as “an irritant” and now is a great opportunity to challenge the British government.

We have also been working on the incorporation of ICBP, which is now a separate legal entity from CABP. The first meeting of the new incorporated ICBP will take place on 7th February

Recent CABP Activities

We were running out of  “bus” posters  and have produced new ones which reference the possibility of new pension rules for those becoming pensioners after 2017. If you would like posters, or brochures, to place in libraries, churches, or indeed any venue frequented by potential members, please contact the office at info@britishpensions.com

The image of a frozen pensioner in the snow was sent to all  Senators and Members of Parliament. Unfortunately many were perceived as spam and returned. I really hope that you, as a consituent, sent this to your MP. This is a surefire way of it getting through.It is still not too late to do this. We are following up with the few Canadian MPs who did respond.

Recently, I have received a very encouraging letter of support from the office of Canadian Minister Diane Finley. The full text is on the CABP Facebook page, but the last sentence is  particularly  interesting:” Government officials at the highest levels will continue to push this issue until fairness and equality are afforded to British pensioners in Canada.”

The new CABP advertisement will be aired this month on TV for the first time in BC. It is possible that we  will repeat this in rural areas in British Columbia where there are significant pockets of ex-Brits. Here is the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAMrXYLbArs

We now have data which tells us where the majority of ex- Britons live in Canada and so this will enable us to target any promotional activities more closely.

Please help us with this. Members and word of mouth are our best publicity. We are looking to increase our membership substantially to help finance what we are vigorously pursuing: the unfreezing of pensions.

Please check out our website: www.britishpensions.com. Many of you used the PayPal page to renew your membership, but have you looked at the rest of it? The members only page has been revamped and you would have received an email with the password, but again, here it is: cabpmembers

Finally, once again a plea for volunteers. In the next few months, we will seek nominations for the national board of directors. Martin Brown, a director has indicated his wish to retire from the board as he is out of the country for much of the year and so unable to contribute fully. It is important that we fill the positions we will have vacant  at the AGM in June. I would be really pleased to hear from anyone who would like to join the dynamic group who are leading CABP chairman@britishpensions.com  It is helpful to be living in the Greater Toronto Area, but not necessary. I live in Calgary! If you are in British Columbia, the CABP branch there would love to know of your interest.

Newsletter #2: Jan 2013

Thank you to the many members who contacted us to say that you enjoyed the first newsletter; I will try to keep them coming every month but, for the full story, you will have to wait for the next copy of Justice in February.

Thank you too to all who contributed to the Action Fund when renewing membership. We rely on funds flowing in from membership dues, which have not increased in 20 years, and also into the Action Fund to be able us to continue the fight. You will see below some of  the CABP initiatives that are being funded by the your memberships. In addition CABP, and BPiA (British Pensioners in Australia), are the major funders of ICBP and the initiatives in the UK, where ultimately this battle has to be won.

CABP’s work and the fight for frozen pensions never stops, in spite of the business of the holiday season. Here is what has been going on:

Recent ICBP Activities

As I mentioned last month, we had been strongly recommended not to proceed with a campaign involving veterans, not on Remembrance Day itself, but even beforehand. But we believe that the image of those veterans who have sacrificed so much for Britain and are now being treated with such disdain is an important one. Tony Bockman has spearheaded a campaign involving a veteran from Ottawa and his image, wearing medals in a very forlorn, cold looking background which has been sent as a “Season’s Greeting” to all UK Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords and  also, newspapers. The basic image was produced professionally and pro-bono, so we are very sincerely thankful to the professionals who donated their time and expertise. We particularly want newspaper editors to use this image rather than the one of “expats” in deck chairs, drinks in hand when writing articles on frozen pensioners.

This image has also been used in Canada (see below).

We have suggested a question to be asked in the House of Commons relating to the possible increases to some widow’s pensions based on the Yates judgment (also see below).

There have been over 2700 responses to the online survey that many of our members completed. These are being analysed for story angles that can be used for making, and promoting our cause in the UK.

Recent CABP Activities

You will have received by email a copy of the photograph of  the CABP member and veteran in the snow. This same “Season’s greeting” was sent to all Canadian Members of Parliament and Senior civil servants who deal with the frozen pension file. It will also been sent to  some newspaper editors in Canada in the New Year.We are already receiving some responses from MPs, which we will follow up shortly.

Thank you to the CABP members who have sent in appreciative comments and also forwarded the image to friends and relations in the UK.

We will also send it to some newspaper editors in Canada in the near future.

Unfortunately, we do not have a real handle on the Canadian Press. It would be a tremendous help if there is a member out there who does and who could help us to compile a list of press contacts. I’d appreciate hearing from you at my new personal address: chairman@britishpensions.com

However, please feel free to forward the photograph to your local newspaper.

Our tireless Communications Director, Richard Hart, has advised us that he will not be standing for re-election at the AGM in June. Richard has been part of the CABP Board for three years and has been instrumental in revamping our website completely. He was responsible for launching the CABP & ICBP Facebook & Twitter pages, for sourcing new computers and technology for the National Office, for setting up Skype for conference calls, for sending out bulk emails  and for generally troubleshooting anything to do with technology. And he has done all this with huge energy and enthusiasm. Thank you, Richard. We are all grateful for your contribution. He has given us this notice in order to work with us to find his  replacement. If there is someone  in the Greater Toronto Area with a technology background who would be interested in joining the Board, please let us know. The job is not nearly as onerous as the one Richard took on as the website and the social media are up and running and the new database upgrades mean that bulk emails could be handled by the office.

We are also really sorry to report that Anne Hoeppner, the wonderful Manitoba representative, has told us she wants to step down for health reasons. Anne has worked tirelessly to “spread the word” for us and we will miss her very much. We wish her well in her “second” retirement. If anyone in Manitoba is able to take on this responsibility, please let me know at: chairman@britishpensions.com

The Marketing Committee have been working on a dynamic short television advertisement which will play to what we believe is a strongly British not-yet-pensioners catchment at a relatively inexpensive time slot (Premium league soccer games on the Sportsnet channel) in the New Year.

Here is the link: check it out:  CABP on YouTube  We think it is terrific and will monitor its success through our membership data and if it is successful, possibly repeat in the fall.

We are following up on the Frank Yates judgment on the “frozen widows” situation.

We have asked our pro bono lawyer, Phil Tunley, to take a look at  the case and  the Appeal Tribunal judgment. Close scrutiny from us tells us what we think is right, but even the Tribunal judge was of the opinion that it was difficult for him to understand: so it is certainly quite complex.

Meanwhile I have been in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions who have not responded on the matter. We have also identified a widow who is in the same situation pretty much as Frank Yates’ late stepmother and have helped her to write a letter to DWP claiming increased pension based on the Yates judgment. She is our test case and although we know that the DWP does not move quickly, we are hoping for something positive from them too.

We are delighted that the new PayPal renewal option has been very widely used by our members. It really does cut down on paper in the office, so we appreciate your using it.

If you still have not renewed, please check your membership renewal date and if you have not yet renewed for 2013 ( you can tell this by the date at the top of this email), I would urge you to do this. Here is a link for the: online payment options

Members are our lifeblood. We need you to:

  • Give us clout with the Canadian and British Governments
  • Help us spread the word to other British pensioners, and yet-to-be pensioners living in Canada
  • Engage in internet and letter writing campaigns
  • Energise us and give us fresh ideas on how we should move forward
  • Join us in the Board work and activities
  • Give us the funds to be able to carry on the fight for Pension Parity

With best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year – British Government willing!

Newsletter #1, Dec 2012

You will by now have read in your latest edition of “Justice” that at the time of the last CABP Board meeting, I took over from Brian Lechem as Chairman of the organisation.  This was planned as Brian was going to be out of the country for some time and I had been asked by fellow Board members if I would take on the challenge and was pleased to accept. I am truly grateful to Brian for his leadership and huge contribution to CABP. Thankfully, he is continuing on the Board .

I have been involved with the struggle for the unfreezing of pensions since 2000 and have worked before with other ICBP Consortium leaders, so the transition is seamless.

Your Board has been working tirelessly on various issues recently. Yet, as we make contact with you only every three months through “Justice”, it sometimes means that by the time news reaches you, it is a little out of date.

I am a great believer in open communication, so this is the first of more regular communications to our members with email addresses.  It is quite lengthy because it is a bit of a “catch-up” as there has been a lot going on with ICBP. The next edition of “Justice” will encourage all members without an email address to give us the address of a friend or relative who might print out these Newsletters for them.

Recent ICBP Activities

You will recall that Champollion is the media agency with whom we have been working in order to increase our exposure and contact with British politicians, the British media and the British public. In October, CABP Board member,Tony Bockman, who is also Chairman of ICBP( International Consortium of British Pensioners), spent some time in the UK,  where he had several meetings with Champollion. At that time, we were strongly advised, including by the Canadian High Commission in London, not to go ahead with a campaign we had planned involving veterans around Remembrance Day. This took a lot of soul searching but we heeded the professional advice we were given. Alternative plans were put in place which will be communicated at a later date. Tony also honed plans for dealing with an online survey which has resulted in over 2,600 responses which will  provide a tremendous amount of information to assist in building UK support towards future UK campaigns.

He also met with BPiA’s (British Pensioners in Australia) Brian Leggett who has moved back to  the UK. Brian will  become involved in future UK activities, together with Champollion specifically aimed at local media, to help ICBP to promote our message throughout the UK.

In late September, I was on a personal visit to family in the UK and took time to meet with a Director of HelpAge International to investigate the possibility of them being able to help us and I also met with the Champollion team. It was at that meeting that I was pictured with Tony Bockman holding the award that Champollion had received for their  ICBP digital campaign. (Justice #4, 2012, page 5.)

Following Tony’s visit to the UK, John Markham, ICBP’s Parliamentary Affairs Director travelled to London to continue his efforts to promote our cause, primarily among Parliamentary representatives. During his visit he met with Dame Anne Begg, the Chairman of the UK’s Work and Pensions Committee, and Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Policy Minister, Lord Shipley offered John some advice from his extensive Parliamentary experience and suggested  how we might become more aggressive in our approach.

A meeting was held with Greg McClymont, the Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, at which the significance of the role of Parliament’s Back Bench Business Committee [BBBC] was discussed. John later met with Natascha Engel, chair of the BBBC, who indicated her support of our cause. A review of her Parliamentary history shows she has had some experience in the Work and Pensions area which could prove useful to us. Stephen Phillips MP, a strong supporter of CABP, advised John that he believes the resistance to the recommendations from the Oxford Economic Report comes from the “permanent government,” i.e. Treasury mandarins disinclined to support policies, which require financial expenditure. The report is seen by them as not being sufficiently robust.

John also advised that he has made useful contacts with the British Legion. Moreover, he met with Tim Otty who represented us at the ECHR. CABP is asking him for legal advice with regards to a submission to the UK Pensions White Paper, due out soon. It was Otty’s view that we need some sworn statements from pensioners in the UK who are prevented from joining their families overseas due to financial constraints imposed by the UK Government freezing their pensions on emigration. One pensioner in the UK has already offered help in this regard but we need to search out some more. If any member knows of someone in this category whom we could contact please email the National office, info@britishpensions.com  and provide their details (with their consent).

John also recorded an interview for expats radio in which he robustly stated our case.

If you missed it, here is a link:

http://expatsradio.com/money-matters-relocating/expat-frozen-pension-struggle-continues

Recent CABP Activities

During October and November, David Acheson, CABP Treasurer, has been working diligently to organise the official incorporation of ICBP.  Originally, the organisation that later became named ICBP had operated under the umbrella of CABP  and focussed specifically, under a “Consortium Agreement”, on the legal case in the European Court of Human Rights. It was important to update this situation as it placed particular responsibilites on CABP’s Board of Directors. Consequently, ICBP is now incorporated with its own constitution, directors and financial status, separate from CABP. It will be funded by member organisations who will be involved more formally in developing ICBP’s budget and strategy for 2013.

I have been in touch with all senior Canadian politicians once again,urging them to engage the British Government. Also, I have pointed out an error in a response I received from a letter I had written to British Foreign Minister William Hague. Minister Hague had said that the Canadian Government had not raised the issue  of frozen pensions since 2010. This cannot be correct as we are continually assured by Canadian Ministers that they always raise the “rozen pensions issue at meetings with their British counterparts. Minister John Baird’s press statement specifically mentioned this after his September meeting with Hague. I have also urged our Ministers to work in tandem with their opposite numbers in the Australian Government whenever possible. A joint effort at negotiation by the two countries could be so much more effective.

It may be “housekeeping” but it is important to report that a tremendous amount of work has been done recently in the National office to bring in an up-to-date database of members. We are now truly into the 21st century! Huge thanks are due to all involved who have spent many hours ensuring that this has gone smoothly.

Meetings have been held in Alberta and also in BC. We are finding that turnout at these meetings has been poor compared to previous years. However, those who do attend are always thankful because of the useful information they receive. I have been conducting the meetings in Alberta but, with my new responsibilities, I really do not have the time to continue. If there is an Alberta resident who would be interested in taking this on, please contact me so that we can talk about this: chairman@britishpensions.com

We learned with interest of the recent judgment obtained by Frank Yates from BC in which his late stepmother was awarded a higher widow’s pension than originally established. We have been in contact with Mr. Yates. This might mean that some “frozen” widows, i.e. widows previously in receipt of a Category B pension through their late husband, may be able to claim a higher pension. We have been investigating how this might impact female members widowed prior to April 2010. We are seeking a legal opinion. We will publish our suggestions on how to proceed in the next issue of Justice, once we are clear about the legal ramifications for this group of widows.

You will see from the copy of Justice that you recently received that there is a new PayPal option for membership renewal and we are delighted to see that many members are finding this convenient to use (remember that we also have the option of credit card renewal).

Please check your membership renewal date above, and if you have not yet renewed for 2013, I would urge you to do this, using our on-line link:

https://www.britishpensions.com/payment-options/

Best wishes, 
Sheila Telford – CABP Chairman