British pension: good for a whinge

When retirement time comes, British migrants in Australia are finding they have more than ever to complain about.

When retirement time comes, British migrants in Australia are finding they have more than ever to complain about.

WHEN retirement time comes, British migrants in Australia are finding they have more than ever to complain about: they get only a fraction of the generous pensions they would have enjoyed had they stayed home.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr is about to join a long line of Australian politicians complaining that British migrants to Australia do not have pensions indexed to inflation, yet those who go to most of Europe, the US, Israel, the Philippines, Turkey and some Caribbean islands are fully indexed.

Senator Carr has announced he will raise the issue with his British counterpart, William Hague, when they meet during his visit to Britain.

Unlike in Australia, British pensions are not means tested, so everyone gets one based on the amount of contributions the person has made. And when people migrate to a country such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand or most other parts of Britain's former empire they get only the monetary amount they are entitled to when they retire and this amount does not change.

Of about 250,000 British pensioners in Australia, about half have their British pensions topped up by CentreLink. Australians who qualify for a pension and live in Britain, get their full Australian pension.

The founder and chairman of the pressure group British Pensions in Australia, Chris Tilley, said the reason for Britain's different approaches to different countries was unclear and removing the inconsistencies and indexing all pensions had been recommended by reports to its Parliament.

'They are the only country that does this. If someone goes to live in Jamaica or Barbados they get the full pension, but not if they go to any of the other islands of the Caribbean. There are lots of migrants from the West Indies who would love to return to their warm island when they retire, if they could get an indexed British pension, which would relieve Britain of other costs to these people including the National Health.''

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