Frozen pensions: Half a million UK ex-pats short-changed

UK pensions under scrutiny

Department for Work and Pensions homepage. Credit: chrisdorney/

Is it fair that numerous British expatriates have had their state pension payments frozen based on the country they have relocated to?

A debate about UK residents living abroad, highlighted a policy that impacts those who retire in certain countries, like Canada and New Zealand, by freezing their pension payments at the rate they were when they left the UK.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has made it clear that it has ‘no plans’ to adjust the stagnant state pension payments for half a million British expatriates.

Recently, the UK Pensions Minister Paul Maynard addressed MPs, confirming the government’s decision to maintain the status quo.

A longstanding policy

An estimated 500,000 senior Britons are denied the full state pension benefits they would have received had they remained in the UK or retired in countries that are eligible for pension increases.

According to GB News, this revelation was part of a debate where Rob Roberts MP advocated for the government to reconsider its position as a gesture of fairness.

Roberts argued, ‘Following our withdrawal from the EU, we are rightly able to move closer with our partners in the Commonwealth and one of the ways we can do that would be to confirm that all British citizens that live in the Commonwealth should be entitled to the appropriate uprating of their state pension as if they were still in the UK, it would seem a matter of simple fairness.

‘Will the minister meet with me to discuss the practicalities of making that happen and restore some much needed common sense to a needlessly complicated situation?’

Maynard’s response was unequivocal, stating, ‘The UK government continues to uprate state pensions where there is a legal requirement to do so and has no plans to change its longstanding policy or enter into any new reciprocal social security agreements.

‘According to the latest estimate, based on data from March 2022, uprating the state pension where we do not currently do so would cost about £0.9 billion a year if all UK state pensions in payment were increased to current UK levels.’

Public support and petition

The issue has garnered public support, leading to the initiation of a parliamentary petition by Robert Lloyd Crutchlow, which reads: ‘We believe the freezing of UK citizens pensioners is discriminatory, unjust and immoral.’

The petition, which currently has around 5,000 signatures, highlights that around 500,000 of the 1.2 million state pension recipients living abroad are excluded from receiving increases to their state pension in the way other recipients do.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Andrew Cremona

      15 February 2024 • 10:45

      Lol. Thieving so and so’s. They put the retirement age up and then they steal your money that you have paid in. Just think how much money there would of been if they hadn’t chucked the country of a cliff with Brexit. Gory tory politicians. Thankfully, we don’t live in Brexit broken Britain. Laughing stock of the world! LOL

      • DJH

        15 February 2024 • 13:09

        I think Covid caused the biggest chicken no head syndrome, therefore monies. You’re right about Brexit, it was undemocratic to follow the winning vote. Which ever way it went it is done, whinging is a waste of energy.
        Again your correct, Great Britain is better with you not there.

    • M

      15 February 2024 • 13:26

      A point that goes under reported is the fact that so many people die before application to a state pension is ever made and their contributions are never passed on as a private pension scheme would.
      There is a lot of problems with state pensions apart from the above there is contributions to factor in and the lack of increase in inflation would amount to a breach of assumed contract when people started paying in. In a nutshell Britain is broke, the pension contributions have all been spent and the country is living hand to mouth on a weekly basis, so where they can squirm out of any payment increases they will.

    • CJB

      15 February 2024 • 14:03

      In similar vein – We live in Spain. We are not eligible for winter heating allowance because Spain is deemed one of the countries where it is not necessary. Spanish homes are built to stay cool in summer. Unfortunately they also stay cool in winter. I would love someone in authority to spend a winter in Spain to see how very cold it can be & how very high heating bills always are. As with the pension freeze, this is another way in which monies paid by us over our working lives are not being made available to us in the way they should

      • Haysom

        17 February 2024 • 12:36

        I have said this esp when you have some apartments where only calor or electric heating. Most houses esp inland have fires and burn logs. Most days by late afternoon have to have some form of heating. I always paid into system and feel aggrieved that it’s not something i can get now as well as waiting longer for pension and paying more tax and NI than I was expecting..

      • Robert Bolton

        18 February 2024 • 07:41

        I agree. Yes, it does get below freezing here in Andalucia in winter. And heating is expensive.

    • David Robertson

      15 February 2024 • 17:49

      Sad that this important story is hijacked by crazy Remainers who only care about themselves. Obviously most cannot read or they would know that the EU is an incredibly corrupt organization, they only care about their little crap apartment or villa in Spain. So you guys should really shut up. The UK government do not care about British people, Rather than give you the pension that you contributed too they give all our money to corrupt foreign governments, to illegal immigrants but not to the people who paid their dues. That is because all the useless UK governments NEVER HAD A SEPERATE PENSION FUND. They could have done this but chose not too so our brothers and sister in Oz and other places get nothing more that they did on the day they left the UK, instead we spend everyday millions on illegal immigrants, and according to the UK government 54% of people in the UK get some form of government aid and many DO NOT PAY A SINGLE PENNY INTO THE NI BUT THEY WILL GET A FULL PENSION, ABSOLUTE MADDNESS. And of course the the UK ambassador in Spain does nothing for the Brits in Spain, he is on a holiday of a lifetime, great wines, great food, great home, all bills paid by the UK government and we get to see him occasionally on the Costas telling us what he is doing for Brits so if he really wants a good cover for his time in sunny Spain why does he not get us the winter allowance because the houses in Spain are so poorly built you freeze in winter and roast in summer. You know I sometimes think it would be better to return to a broken Britain where I can claim so many benefits so dear ambassador do something for us.

    • Saya Sendiri

      16 February 2024 • 09:50

      £0.9Billion is a drop in the ocean compared to the money spent on migrants and foreign aid. The frozen pension in commonwealth countries is solely due to the fact that the Civil Service stuffed it up in the late 40’s when they forgot to include them in the legislation. About time this was addressed.
      Previously the Liberals declared that they would amend the anomaly and remove the freeze but when Webb became Minister for Works and Pensions he did nothing.

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