War veteran wants to speak with PM over pension

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, London, UK

A WOMAN of 94 who served in the Second World War is reigniting a campaign to get justice for half a million retired expats who are denied a full State pension.

Anne Puckridge has penned an open letter to Theresa May, requesting ‘five minutes of her time’ so she can explain the devastating impact of a 70-year-old policy that discriminates against some pensioners who moved overseas – but not others.

She is one of 550,000 Britons who retired abroad only to discover their State pension would be frozen. By comparison, those who never moved – or live in countries where reciprocal arrangements exist – benefit from annual increases in line with inflation.

This spring Anne is returning to Britain from Canada, where she has lived for 17 years, in the hope of meeting the Prime Minister. In October last year, she delivered a petition to No? 10 with 220,000 signatures calling for an end to ‘frozen pensions’. A cross-party group of more than 60 MPs back her.

Anne served as an intelligence officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service in the war, paid National Insurance contributions throughout her working life, and retired at age 76. She then moved to Canada to be closer to her daughter. Had she moved to the US, she would be receiving a full pension. In her letter, Anne says: ‘While I am proud to have served the UK in all three Armed Forces, I cannot understand why the country I served has failed me.’

Some pensioners are losing out by more than £4,000 a year. Anne’s weekly pension is stuck at £72.50, rather than the £125.95 she would receive if she lived in the UK.

Anne says she was never warned about the little-known policy and the impact it would have on her retirement income. She continues in her letter: ‘There are many veterans and former public servants in the same situation who are struggling to survive on their frozen pensions because the Government refuses to legislate to protect them.’

John Duffy, chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, the body behind the campaign, calls the policy ‘immoral and unjust’. He adds: ‘It is shameful those who served our country in its toughest times are being treated this way.’

Sir Roger Gale is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on frozen pensions. On Friday, the MP told The Mail on Sunday: ‘All UK pensioners who paid their National Insurance contributions in full deserve a properly uprated State pension regardless of where they live.’ He added: ‘A British pensioner living in the US receives a full State pension, but if they live just a few miles across the border in Canada their pension is frozen at the value it was when they left the UK. Not only is this unfair, but illogical.’

The Department for Work and Pensions says addressing the wishes of the campaigners would cost £500?million a year.

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This article was written by Laura Shannon from Financial Mail on Sunday (Daily Mail) and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.