At the 2015 Conservative Party Conference, David Cameron pledged that the Conservatives would be the party of “fairness and equality”. Unfortunately, he did not remain in office long enough to fulfil his promise and it does not seem his successor is prepared to take up his mantle, particularly in the area of impoverished British overseas pensioners.
Due to the misuse of an ancient law, over half a million British pensioners are condemned to poverty by the UK Government. Each year British pensions are uprated including in 49 countries favoured by the UK Government but not in the other 150 countries worldwide including most of the Commonwealth, which comprise the parts of the former British Empire and, when most needed, allies of the UK.
For example, live in Canada and your pension is fixed at the rate when you moved there but live in the USA and your pension is uprated every year but not in Mexico, nor in most of the Caribbean unless you are lucky enough to live in Barbados or Jamaica. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India are just a few of the countries where 550,000 British pensioners are made to suffer.
Pensioners who have contributed their whole working lives into the NI system are treated differently dependent upon where they have decided to live. It is unfair and dishonourable.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have all pledged to address the anomaly but not the Conservatives. However, if the Conservatives are re-elected, they are going to have to deal with the problem with the half million British pensioners who live in the EU.
In 1981 the UK Government stated that it would not enter into any further arrangements with countries to up-rate British pensions but they are going to be forced to do so in negotiations with the EU and to ignore the over half a million pensioners living in the Commonwealth will not only be a disgrace but it will bring the whole of the Conservative Party into disrepute (a few honourable Tories excepted).
If voters should check with their Conservative candidate whether or not he or she supports the up-rating of all British overseas pensions then vote according to their conscience.
John J Duffy,
President, Caribbean Marine Association