The UK Government View
They cite other priorities for spending. Yet:
It would cost Britain less than 3/4 of one percent of the UK pensions budget to end this discriminatory practice.
Fraud in the Social Security system was recently estimated by the Government to cost them as much as £7 billion every year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, having again allocated funds to increase the rates and uprate all except frozen pensions, has announced the allocation of a further £2.5bn to be used so that
“…thousands of pensioners will be relieved from poverty.”
This follows earlier words by the Chancellor in the same speech (The UK Government ViewHoC, 98 07 14),
“At the heart of our review has been a determination that we fulfil our duty to the oldest members of our society.”
Though obviously trying to minimize social security expenses, Britain has the strongest EU economy and has proved to have by far the best funded pension plan of any EU country.
This strength to some significant degree is being accomplished on the backs of 548,000 of their expatriates and the taxpayers of 118 other countries throughout the Commonwealth and around the world.
The UK Government says it cannot afford to treat all pensioners equally. Thus, sadly,it chooses to ignore the moral argument, clearly raised in the Select Committee Hearings, and repeatedly on the floor of the House.
It says those countries where pensions are uprated have a reciprocal agreement with Britain. But Britain does not need a reciprocal agreement to end pension discrimination. It can be achieved with a simple change in domestic regulation*. Furthermore for twenty years Britain has refused to sit down with the leading Commonwealth countries to discuss a reciprocal agreement on this issue.
* Confirmed again by the Pension Minister – Hansard 99 03 10
In the conclusion of their report (January 29, 1997), following the recent Select Committee Hearings, the Committee conceded that:
It would clearly be impractical to negotiate individual bilateral agreements with each of the other countries in the world where people draw British state retirement pensions, and, in any case unnecessary; a simple change in British law could enable upratings to be paid in any or all overseas countries, provided the political will was there to do so.