Friday, January 1, 2016

INDEX and beginning

*Representation of BRITISH CITIZENS*
**Read why all expatriates should be represented at Westminster
and why it is absolutely vital for those who live in the EU.**
Were the British Public to vote the UK out of the EU an abyss could open under expatriates in the European Union. They would not be consulted - Unless The British citizen gets to VOTE.. 

2. Read and Act - Please.  
Originated by the Editor of The Connexion, France
*This activity has created a large number of articles and some radio interviews around the world - they are listed here. *

 The latest Posts of importance.
* The British pensioners abroad - ignored October 2014
* The Migration of the British Pensioners August 2014
* The British Citizens in Europe - Referendum. June 2014
* Who needs the vote? Government and/or Voter? Feb 2014
* Winter Fuel payment in Europe - The manipulation of statistics  by the Dept.of Work & Pensions
Health costs and democracy in Europe
*  The Referendum in/out Europe 
*  Brussels 5th September meeting with the EU Commission

 * How do British Pensioners live in France (Updated December 2012)

Correspondent list -- An 'update'  email is sent approximately every 2/3 months (or if some development warrants it) to all who email the site.  All email addresses are 'hidden' and anonymity is hoped to be always achieved. If you wish to be on this correspondent list,  please email.  Nothing is asked of you, other than your goodwill. 
There have been  .34000 visits [and >64,000 pageviews] 
Numbers count when petitioning politicians. When letters are sent to politicians it is immensely helpful to say that one has the support of xxxx expatriates. So please give support. Encouragement is also a great boost to morale! Nothing will change without your support!
One should not expect fast movement but please keep in touch and never surrender.
Short Biography of the Organiser *Brian Cave*
Your thoughts on everything would be welcome. One relies on feedback to improve this site. No contribution is an unnecessary contribution.

And please make a nuisance of yourself in Whitehall and Westminster.
Constant dripping wears away stone. Do not underestimate the value of the constant drip!

Please disseminate information about this site, inform your friends and media outlets, and keep watching!
If you do not stand up for yourself, others will surely keep you down!

Remember - Please tell others about this blog - and please write to the politicians - you must do this if anything ever is to change. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brits abroad: get your voice heard!

Brits abroad: get your voice heard!
Register to vote now,
We British expats often feel neglected by our home country. We’re proud to be British, we have strong ties with back home… but we don’t feel our voice is being heard in government about the issues that affect us.
But there is a way: register to vote. You can now register on line, so nothing could be simpler. Do it now, and provided you’re outside the scope of the 15- year rule, you’ll have a voice in the General Election on 7th May 2015. Young people can register from the age of 16, but to be able to vote you must be aged at least 18 on Election Day. Regularly keeping your voter registration up to date with means you’ll also be ready to vote in any referendum on continuing membership of the EU, if one is called, again as long as you’re not prevented from voting by the 15-year rule. To register, all you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet connection, your passport details (number, issuing authority, date of issue), your National Insurance (NI) number, your last postal address in the UK and your current address abroad. The whole process should take less than five minutes. If you haven’t got your NI number to hand, you can ask the site to find it and send it to you, or alternatively identify yourself by other means. All this is clearly explained on the website.
If you’ve lived outside the UK for more than 15 years, you won’t be able to complete your registration, but do try to register anyway, in the hope that the website will log failed registration attempts as well as successful ones.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

British Pensioners abroad –under appreciated and largely ignored.

There are 1,224,610 recipients of the British State Pension who live abroad.  Not all are British Citizens, but the vast majority are so. 
The number living in continental Europe plus Ireland is 478,950 (Feb, 2014)  – nearly 40% of the total number of pensioners abroad and nearly 4% of the total of ALL British State pensioners. Nearly one in ten of all British pensioners live abroad (9.4%).
The emigration of the Pensioners to the other States of the EU has been dramatic.  Here is a graph since 1973.

They go – not necessarily for the weather – The winters are very often far colder than in Britain.  They go because housing is cheaper and they can have more space to continue and develop interests.  They are not any richer than those that stay behind, but they may have more 'get up and go! -gumption!'.  Some survive on little more than their pensions.  Some run into problems no different from elderly people in the UK.  Take this example (I have permission to reproduce it).
I will call the Lady -Isabel
Like most of our friends, when we arrived in France aged 60, we were in good health.  However, as we all know, as the years go on, many of us are beset by various illnesses and the frailty of old age.  I have had several operations and many investigations in hospital for various internal and ophthalmic problems.  My husband had a hip replacement three years ago and two other operations since then.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, for which he is being treated with chemotherapy.  He has suffered horrific and debilitating side effects and I am, of course, at the age of 77, his only carer.  We have no family, either here or in the U.K.  There have been improvements as well as setbacks in the progress of his illness and further chemotherapy is planned.
As you can imagine, this past year has been extremely hard on both of us and it is only with the support of the excellent French health professionals as well as the kindness of our friends and neighbours (both French and British) that we have managed to cope.   We live on a joint pension income of 12,000 pounds sterling per annum and have to draw on our very modest savings to supplement this.   Because of our low income, we downsized seven years ago to a tiny, one-bedroomed house which my husband converted from a carpenter's workshop but his illness and treatment cause him to feel the cold in the extreme and, in spite of the size of our house, I dread to think what our heating bill will be this Winter.  It is so dreadfully unfair that we and others in our situation should  not be allowed to receive the Winter Fuel Payment  from the British government when our compatriots do!  And, of course, there is nothing we can do about it as, having lived in France for more than fifteen years, we are now disenfranchised as well!
Isabel recounts a fairly extreme case which, to a lesser degree, affects so many more  pensioners  throughout Europe.
There are people in Britain who would say ‘You left Britain too bad.”  But the EU is supposed to allow free movement of people.  The UK is responsible, under EU Law, for the welfare of its elderly citizens.  All those 480 thousand citizens are now threatened with being cut off from their support from Britain if Britain withdraws from the Union.
The Pensioner in Europe is already viewed as a second class citizen by the British Civil Service and far too many politicians. But consider the further possibilities if Britain left Europe.
1. Medical support.   This would cease. The UK currently supports the medical care of British pensioners in Europe  to the same level of the cost of care as the citizens where they are resident.  In France for most ordinary care this is to about 60%.  The pensioner has to find the rest.  In the case of Isabel, the cancer care is supported 100%.  A broken leg would not be so – nor a gastric ulcer - nor high blood pressure.
2. The State Pension.  The power in law exists to freeze the annual increase for all State pensions paid abroad, except where special arrangements have been agreed.  These arrangements with the EU would cease if Britain left. Would new arrangements be made? That is at the least uncertain.
3.  The purchase of goods from Britain could be constrained. Import duty could be imposed.
4.   European citizenship would cease and the way would be open for the imposition of  constraints on all  the four free movements of the EU - of people,  money, and any services as well as goods.
BUT even  at this time, as the UK is part of the EU, the British Government through the Civil Service treat us as lesser citizens, as follows.
5. The Civil Service is at this moment pleading for the removal of the UK tax free allowance on income sourced from the UK.  - that means that pensioners who reply on income from  UK property rents or UK bank interest or the small group of those who have pensions non-exportable for tax would lose 20p. in every single  £1 of income.  The situation would be intolerable for some  and they would have to return to Britain and create an increased expenditure on the State.
6. The DWP  led by Iain Duncan Smith pleads for the Winter Fuel Payment to be removed from the citizens who live in certain so-called hot countries (e.g. France) – Isabel’s case shows the unfairness of that! 
7. Investments – Most British pensioners in Europe have some savings in British banks and/or other British institutions. In spite of the EU promise of freedom of movement and services, banks including Santander, Barclays and Lloyds have placed restrictions on the investments or accounts of British Citizens in continental Europe. This, in spite of the EU Commission pleading for the necessity of nationals to retain such accounts.
8.  The situation with regard to pensions of the military, police, teachers and most other public service workers is unfortunate.  They all, by law pay income tax to Britain. In most cases if they paid this tax to the State in which they are resident they would be better off.  None can receive the tax benefits which accrue indirectly through age  (such as the employment of a home-help in France which attracts a 50% tax credit to those who pay income tax to France).
9.  Surely it should be obvious that many British emigrants. pensioners or otherwise, have family ties to Britain.  They will be concerned  for the welfare of grandchildren or parents.
10. One must remember that the British Government acts 'in the name of'' all British Citizens.  So it is that in the activities of  war and foreign aid all British Citizens have some interest.
11. Lastly, trivial perhaps, but indicative of the attitude of the British Civil Service, the cost of passports of British Citizens resident abroad have been disproportionately hiked .
But there is more…
The pensioners in Europe only wish to have a peaceful life and enhance their way of life as their circumstances allow.  This is what being in the EU means.  For Britain to turn its back on them is disgraceful. 
Would it not bring scorn and anger on the government if any pensioner resident in Britain who has given a life time of work in service to the community; whose income entirely comes from pensions and savings grounded in the British economy; who buys goods within the British economy; were not allowed to be represented in the British parliament?   That is the situation that exists now for the expatriate pensioner in Europe.  It is exceedingly difficult for the British Citizen abroad to express their views to the politicians in Britain.  Few politicians have any interest in the Citizen Abroad, though most Citizens abroad have a profound interest in the activities of the British Government – both at home and of course, abroad.

Democracy is the Representation of the people, by the people and for the people. – Oops – Unless you are a Pensioner who has the gumption to take the opportunity given by the EU to widen your horizons and even at the age of sixty plus to move across the channel, or even further.
One is allowed to vote in the constituency where one last resided for up to 15 years, That is not enough – The eleven points enumerated above demonstrate that a much closer democratic relationship is called for with politicians who understand the circumstances of the British Citizen abroad,
It is not helpful to be kicked in the butt by the Government of your own country, nor by the unnecessarily blinkered and prejudiced compatriots at ‘home’ unfortunately led on by a blinkered press and blinkered political parties.
[Note - comments are not usually accepted by this blog. You can write to the author - see address at the start ]
This article can be freely circulated in whole or in part  as long as correct acknowledgements to me are given.
Brian Cave - Pensioners Debout!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Movement of British State Pensioners throughout the World

Movement of British State Pensioners to other EU  STATES and other countries of the world
The first Chart below shows the increase of  British State Pensioners who moved to other States of the EU between 1973 to 2014.

To view the graph larger click on the graph- to return press 'esc'
The table lower down gives figures for movements  in Europe and other parts of the world. Those countries with a * have State pensions increased each year - the others have the British State pensions frozen.

Some observations.
New Zealand
The largest number of retired British citizens emigrating during 2013/14 went to New ZealandIn N.Z the British State pension is frozen  - but......
New Zealand residents are entitled to receive NZ Super (the old age pension) if they satisfy all of the following conditions. They must:
  • have reached State pension age (currently age 65);
  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident;
  • live in New Zealand;
  • have lived in New Zealand for at least 10 years since age 20; or
  • have lived in New Zealand for at least 5 years since age 50.
Residence in a country with which New Zealand has reciprocal social security arrangements (like Australia and the UK) counts as residence in New Zealand.
---------------  New Zealand is moreover the most ‘English’ of all destinations.

This is probably a significant reason why the influx of British State Pensioners is constantly rising in New Zealand.
 CANADA - SOUTH AFRICA - AUSTRALIA  In these countries the State Pension is frozen and their appears to be no adequate compensation scheme to offset this.  No doubt this is why the numbers are dropping.
PAKISTAN and JAMAICA and INDIA - Although Jamaica has non-frozen pensions, the numbers have dropped year on year.  Pakistan also shows a year on year decline.- possibly there is a cultural reason?
India (with frozen pensions) shows an increase - again is the reason cultural, but opposite to that of Pakistan and more akin to the reasons why so many native stock Britons retire abroad especially to culturally similar countries?
ITALY and USA In  MAY 2013 ( see the last column of figures) these countries achieved a higher figure and have since declined by tiny numbers.
NEW ZEALAND, IRELAND and FRANCE have received the greatest number of immigrant retired British citizens since MAY 2013 with 3480, 2140 and 1740 people respectively.
N.B. not all British State Pensioners are British Citizens, this is probably chiefly true of the Irish situation.
Remember that these figures include the death rate (which is fairly high amongst pensioners). so the changes in numbers reflect the fact that movements from the UK are a good deal higher than those shown.
The overall percentage of British pensioners abroad has risen gradually year on year and is now 9.49%.

Country of  Immigration % change 2002-2014 Number in 2002 Number in Feb 2013 Numbers in May 2013 Number in Feb 2014 % change 2013-2014 difference between May 2013 and Feb 2014
Jamaica* -39.0% 23420 17690 17560 16850 -5.0% -710
Pakistan -47.6% 5920 4120 4100 4010 -2.7% -90
Canada 4.9% 144830 154870 155040 152250 -1.7% -2790
South Africa 6.3% 34960 37670 37780 37330 -0.9% -450
Australia 10.4% 224210 250770 250990 250300 -0.2% -690
Italy* 21.1% 30080 38160 38170 38130 -0.1% -40
USA* 14.3% 120350 140270 140520 140410 0.1% -110
India 25.2% 3950 5190 5210 5280 1.7% 70
Spain* 55.1% 48000 106280 106850 106890 0.6% 40
Cyprus* 57.0% 7920 18270 18380 18440 0.9% 60
Ireland* 30.1% 92520 129320 130190 132330 2.3% 2140
Germany* 33.4% 27350 39990 40330 41070 2.6% 740
Israel* 27.2% 3640 4920 4950 5000 1.6% 50
Greece* 61.9% 2190 5600 5650 5750 2.6% 100
Portugal* 52.3% 4760 9680 9780 9980 3.0% 200
France* 68.2% 19770 59620 60350 62090 4.0% 1740
N.Z. 34.9% 38640 55990 55900 59380 5.7% 3480
Switzerland* 65.1% 3910 10700 10820 11190 4.4% 370
Netherlands* 47.9% 6240 11420 11600 11980 4.7% 380

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


British Banks are doing their best to get rid of customers who are UK citizens but resident overseas.  There are about 5 to 6 million who fit that category, of whom about 800,00 or so are believed to live elsewhere in the EU.   
Instance:- Santander Bank UK  summarily and without prior notice cancelled Debit Cards.  In a subsequent letter they maintained that they were not going to replace Debit Cards because of the high risk of interception and the likelihood of fraudulent use 'in your country'
People challenged this position by writing to the CEO of Santander UK who passed the issue to an Executive Complaints Department for adjudication.  In the event, the person doing the review came down on the side of the customers, and some have received replacement cards by courier with the promise of PIN numbers to follow.  The reviewer also commented that although the policy had been adopted thanks to some document or another that was circulated to all banks at the end of last year, the policy has now changed and (certainly in the case of Greece) the phrase 'your country' has been removed from the list.
In an interesting twist, however, when speaking to the reviewer he said that the bank had 'made a mistake' in allowing people overseas to continue operating their accounts and in the official letter following the review is the passage 'It is also stipulated in the general Terms and Conditions of your account, that we are a U.K. based bank and do not facilitate customers who live outside the U.K.' 
This last line is the crux of the matter.  As expats will know, it is difficult if not impossible for expats who don't have a UK address to open a UK bank account, change an existing account for a better one, get a credit card etc.  In some cases, private pension providers will only put money into a UK bank account. 

N.B. The EU has four basic 'freedoms' core to the existence and continuation of the
UNION. One is the freedom of movement of SERVICES and CAPITAL
But no constraints exist on banks to honour these principles!
The Competition and Marketing Authority in the UK is currently looking at the way in which banks operate Personal Current Accounts (their deadline for submissions is 17th September) so one must write to them at
AND register any concerns you have over your own personal situation.  The more people who complain, the more likely the matter will be taken seriously.  Hopefully, the CMA will remind banks of their obligations, as operators in the UK of the UK 's membership of the EU and the need to allow unfettered movement of money as well as people and goods throughout the EU at least! "
In all our interests please react, write as above and re-circulate.

As an additional note -I add the UK banks should pay interest gross and thus one can avoid UK tax - Santander has refused this on one occasion known to me. 
To obtain Form R105 to obtain interest without tax deducted at source. Helpful if one is not required to complete a UK tax return.
  I am grateful to a correspondent for the above information.
** Another reason why the expats should have the vote!
Unless this following petition FOR REPRESENTATION in Parliament gets another 7,000 signatures within the month till September 2014– it will fail!