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Grandmother forced to leave Canada retirement after pension frozen

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 08, 2014

Anne Puckridge

Comments (14)

Grandmother Anne Puckridge says she has been forced to cut short her Canadian retirement and move back to live in Stroud because her pension is frozen.

The 90-year-old former college lecturer in Gloucestershire has been caught out by an anomaly which means her UK pension has not risen since she left the country 13 years ago.

Even though Mrs Puckridge, who lived 15 years in Painswick, and then Valley View Road in Stroud for a further 20, paid full National Insurance contributions, she is not, under current rules, entitled to the full current state pension of £110.15 a week.

Instead, Mrs Puckridge, who emigrated to Calgary to see more of her daughter Diane and grandchildren in 2001, gets just £75.50 – the pension rate when she left the UK.

She is among four per cent of UK pensioners – 560,000 people altogether – whose pensions were frozen when they left to live in countries without bilateral agreements with the UK.

If she had gone to live, for example, in France, Spain or the US she would have received annual pension increases.

But in most Commonwealth countries, including Canada, there are no reciprocal agreements with Britain, so the monies are not increased.

“I value my independence, but I can’t go on living on the breadline, and I don’t want to inflict this on my family,” said Mrs Puckridge, who said she is suffering ever-increasing poverty.

“This is complete and utter discrimination,” she added.

“I have paid all my contributions and now I have no option but to return to get something back.”

Mrs Puckridge has written countless letters of complaint to MPs on the issue over the years.

Now her case is being held up as an example of the anomaly in the rules by the International Consortium of British Pensioners, which is calling for the legislation to change.

Its chairman Sheila Telford said: “We feel it is totally unfair that those who have contributed to the country for many years through National Insurance contributions, taxes and in many cases, such as Anne’s, military service, are discriminated against by the Government for choosing the ‘wrong’ country to retire to.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The UK state pension is payable worldwide, but is only uprated abroad where we have a legal requirement or a reciprocal agreement.

“This has always been the case and people who are considering emigrating abroad should always consider the impact the move could have on their future state pension entitlement.”

There were no plans to change the existing longstanding policy of successive governments on the uprating of pensions overseas, he said.

In fact, he added, the policy was upheld in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010, which found in favour of the UK government.

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  • protempore  |  March 10 2014, 3:13PM

    I agree with RobtheFox, informing you that you will suffer discrimination does not make it right. For years the DWP kept this grubby secret under wraps, now with the internet available to most people the cat is out of the bag. If this was happening to a minority because of their race or religion or gender there would be an uproar of protests from all fair minded citizens, but this is happening to just 4% of seniors just because of where they live, so how come this is something these seniors should accept?

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  • RobtheFox  |  March 10 2014, 11:37AM

    Thank you GlosAnarchy but whether Ms Puckridge knew before she emigrated - and the evidence of many is that she would not as the DWP consistently fail to inform pensioners of the policy and how it affects them - is not actually the point. It is the discrimination that is the issue and discrimination remains discrimination whether one knew before one emigrated or not. The campaign is to bring about the end of the discrimination encompassed in this iniquitous and scandalous policy not for improved publicity of it on the part of the DWP to advertise it. No ıt ıs not her fault but solely the fault of the Uk government ın general and Gloucester's near neiıghbour the Mınıster for Pensıons and the MP for Thornbury and Yate ın partıcular, Steve Webb

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  • GlosAnarchy  |  March 10 2014, 10:03AM

    I know it may not be fair but was this not the case when she left the UK, if so she knew this would happen and has only herself to blame???

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  • honslknjklyt  |  March 09 2014, 9:29PM

    When someone has been unemployed and sign on, they get their National Insurance paid for them. This contributes towards their pension. If someone is a business owner and making ends meet and are pay themselves on dividends, they do not pay national insurance but pay other taxes. For myself I cannot afford to pay myself every week and things are tight. There are many many people in my boat, it is unjust that someone unemployed (I know someone who is in late 40s and been unemployed all her life) will get a better pension than myself and people like me who work odd. This is off topic I know - just saying!!

  • protempore  |  March 08 2014, 7:53PM

    Just a couple of points. In the above article the DWP are quoted as saying that reciprocal agreements are needed to uprate the frozen few. This is not true. The DWP relied on this 'information' for decades until, through a freedom of information request, they had to admit this is not the case. NO agreements are needed to pay seniors their cost of living increases anymore than a private pension provider does. If the authors of these articles updated their information they would know this, I'm not blaming anyone on this article because this article has been published already in the Telegraph also with this mi-information.Also PukkaGen alluded to the UK government sponging off the taxpayers of Commonwealth countries in that some limited financial help is given to these victimised seniors. In some cases this is true but in most cases nothing is available and these pensioners are descending below the poverty line as each year their pensions are worth less. What a shameful way for a 'rich country' (Cameron's words) to treat it's seniors.

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  • PukkaGen  |  March 08 2014, 7:14PM

    taylke, you are not alone, thank you for asking the question. So many people are unaware of the situation that their pension could be frozen should they move abroad and the DWP will insist that they tell everyone, well they would would'nt they. A prime example is that a pension is frozen in Canada but not in the USA. Frozen in the Falklands but uprated annually in the Philippines. The government can find £55 million per day to give to the EU and sponge on the Commonwealth countries who help the frozen pensioners. This just about sums up the politician of today. Think before you vote next time as there is always an alternative to the one who is your current MP and it looks as though there is a lot of new blood needed to flush out the bad.

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  • taylke  |  March 08 2014, 6:11PM

    Thanks for the explanation Morgeo.

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  • protempore  |  March 08 2014, 5:08PM

    This quote from Steve Webb before he became pensions minister...... Steve Webb. 18 March 2004. Pension bill debate. Hansard, "The moral claim rests on the fact that we have a contributory pension system. We ask people to make contributions all their life to accrue an entitlement. Why should that accrued entitlement vary according to where they choose to live? That does not sit well with the idea of a contributory system." What has he done since then you may ask? I'm temped to say nothing because he has ignored the frozen few, but he has done something regarding this outrageous injustice, he has included clause 20 which freezes the state pensions of less than half of UK expats in the new pensions bill which is now awaiting royal ascent. I need to say no more about this two faced minister.

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  • Morgeo  |  March 08 2014, 4:27PM

    I would add to my previous comment that on the 11th March,it will be one year since our beloved Queen signed the new Charter of the Commonwealth which sets out standards which the Commonwealth wish to maintain and in that charter is a reference to discrimination and human rights which declares that "We are implacably opposed to discrimination of any kind" . So much for the word of Her Majesty who signed in good faith but the Prime Minister and the government have ignored it to her embarrassment and their disgrace. Some of the countries where the freezing policy is denying the pensioner do and are able to assist them financially which is deemed acceptable to the Pensions minister to freeload on these countries. Affordability is usually given as an excuse and just recently you heard the Prime Minister David Cameron say that "We are a wealthy country". In addition to that the National Insurance fund from which the pensions are paid is in surplus to the tune of £ 20.7 billion.

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  • Morgeo  |  March 08 2014, 4:06PM

    Hello taylke, Mrs Puckridge would receive the fully indexed pension on her return ti the UK as do any pensioners returning to the UK for a visit but their pension will only be uprated for the duration of that visit. Should she return to Canada then it would revert back to the same value as it is now. This is the way that the governments over the years have treated their elderly citizens who have moved abroad to be with family or just for health reasons in a warmer climate. All have qualified for the full indexed pension but are deprived by a discriminatory regulation that kicks in when everyone else's pension is uprated as it will in April. This is affecting 560,000 pensioners who live in the Commonwealth countries in the main while 660,000 pensioners elsewhere in the world do get the uprating. You get the logic ? and no doubt see the discrimination. The Pensions Minister was all for rectifying this anomaly when in opposition but like so many politicians his words were mere words and he has not only done nothing about it but openly condones it by introducing Clause 20 in the new pensions Bill which will freeze future pensioners wishing to emigrate to some countries but not others with no justification but shows the intransigence and lack of morality and integrity of many MP's in government over the years. This has been cruelly enforced for longer than the Queen has been on the throne and is totally unworthy of those elected to look after the interests of the British citizens wherever they choose to live in retirement.

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