c/o 202-4800 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario ON M9A 1B1
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,) that “budgetary 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.
Chairman, International Consortium of British Pensioners