Friday, December 25, 2009

The Concerns of the Blog

The Four Concerns of this blog are
Click on each title to reveal further links!
(1) Freedom of Movement.

Including Health Matters 
Here is any topic that affects our movement between the UK and the Continent. Removal of financial constraints on pensioners, removal of illegal constraints on travel, payments of benefits, Winter Fuel Payment, passport payments etc.

(2) Political Representation .
So that someone in Parliament truly has our welfare as his/her major concern.

(3) The Double Taxation Convention.
To sort out the tax mess which currently exists.

One needs to know where one is with one's money. Updated with a comment on the £ v. Euro October 13th

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Latest letter of December 2nd 2009 to HMRC LONDON

This is a slightly abridged version of the original - informants and copies not disclosed. (n.b. - when first published here, this item carried, by accident, an inappropriate date of 2012 - our apologies!)

Mr. Richard Thomas,
Tax Treaty Team, 100, Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ
December 2nd 2009

Dear Mr. Thomas,
I wrote to you on July 20th a detailed letter and you courteously acknowledged that letter on the 4th August, saying that I would receive a fuller reply in due course. I still await that reply.
The letter of July 20th has a background essentially of the old Convention (DTC) (UK/France) then and now in part at least, still in force. It also refers to the new DTC of 2008.
Nothing materially has changed but I have been pursuing the case.
You must be aware that I have presented a Petition before the EU Committee on Petitions, who have acknowledged my petition and I await further news in that regard. The details of that petition can be read on my blogsite. I pray that when you do so, you take cognisance of the situation, mentioned in the petition, where if all income were taxed in France I could derive benefits from the tax rebates on employment of a home help and contributions to a French Charity to support the education of a boy in Cambodia. Because of the interpretation of the DTC these rebates are denied to me, since the income tax is paid to the UK!.
For all these reasons my total tax bill is somewhere about 1,000 euros higher than it would be for a Frenchman in the same circumstances.
In the meanwhile....
I have been in correspondence with an international tax specialist with regard to the French interpretation of the taxation procedures in the proposed 2008 Convention.
The Articles of the New Double Taxation Convention mentioned above are in spirit identical to the same Articles of the previous Convention (1968 No. 1869) The outcome is little different from that which I have previously stated. Nevertheless I am informed that the French are likely under DTC 2008 to calculate the tax due in a slightly different manner. I suspect that the situation thereby actually worsens for the British Government Pensioner.
[Calculation on income which includes UK Government Pensions].
Gov pensions = A, UK Tax = B
Any French income (or other foreign source income which is taxable in France) = C
French tax is calculated on A+C = D
French tax attributable to A = (A / (A+C)) x D = E
French tax payable is D minus E. [note that it is the attributable tax which is deducted in the calculation, not the actual tax paid! ]

Clearly and it is irrefutable logic - if B minus E is greater than zero ( UK tax less the French attributable tax) then the British National tax payer pays more tax overall than if he was a French National.
Further and again the logic is irrefutable; if a French National had EXACTLY the same career history as myself and therefore the same income and sources of income - then he would pay less tax than myself.
This situation infringes ARTICLE 25 (paragraph 1) on non-discrimination which I repeat here:
Individuals who are nationals of a Contracting State shall not be subjected to any taxation or any requirement connected therewith, which is other or more burdensome than the taxation and connected requirements to which nationals of that other State in the same circumstances, in particular with regard to residence, are or may be subjected.
The case is absolutely clear.
Now again I repeat to you Article 26. 1.
Where a resident of a Contracting State considers that the actions of one or both of the Contracting States result or will result for him in taxation not in accordance with the provisions of this convention, he may, irrespective of the remedies provided by the domestic law of those States, present his case to the competent authority of the State of which he is resident, OR IF HIS CASE COMES UNDER PARAGRAPH 1 OF ARTICLE 25, TO THAT OF THE CONTRACTING STATE OF WHICH HE IS A NATIONAL.

I have written three times (third time by recorded delivery) to M. Comolet-Tirman [your counterpart] in Paris and have had no reply to any of them. This is also mentioned in my petition to the EU as is my correspondence to yourself.
You are the competent authority of which I am a national.
I have in my EU petition proposed two alternative solutions.
1. To remove in France all calculation relating to the British Government pensions taxable in the UK under OECD recommendations in the French tax calculations - as is the case in Spain and probably other EU countries.
2. To remove all necessity to tax the Government pensions of British residents in France in the UK, thus causing them to be taxable in France.

I repeat to you, Mr. Thomas, that it is the bounden responsibility under International Law for the British Government to uphold the interests of me, a British Citizen, and to intervene with France to correct this unfairness and irregularity. I demand, with the right of a British Citizen, that action is taken.

I give you official notice in this mail of my contention as required under Article 26.1 of the convention.
Copies of this mail to;- not disclosed here
Brian Cave

Circulated Message from Roger Gale M.P. on DLA payments

This message from Roger Gale MP has been sent to all MPs with constituents concerned about the non payment of Disability Living Allowance.

Exportable Benefits - update
As a colleague with a constituent interest in the issue of exportable benefits I felt that I should circulate the present position.

Infringement proceedings against the UK Government for breach of the ECJ ruling were issued at the beginning of October.

The Commission does not accept the "26/52" ruling in relation to qualification.

I still await the Prime Minister’s promised written answer to my oral PQ and subsequent letter.

The government has declined, on grounds of confidentiality, to publish its response to the EU.

Some 2000 (we believe) former elderly and disabled former UK residents and taxpayers are awaiting payment of the benefits due to them.

It would appear that appeal hearings, long-delayed, have now been put on hold pending (1) a resolution of the infringement proceedings and (2) the subsequent hearing of a basket of test cases.

All of which is not very satisfactory!

Yours ever

Roger Gale, MP
North Thanet

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Update regarding exportable benefits from the UK/EU Disability & Carers Group.

To go to the start of the PensionersDebout blog click here

This 'posting' is now an archive.  It concerns the case of John Hamilton who is disabled.  Following the pressure brought to Government by his wife and various other groups including the Spanish Association of expatriates and backed by EU law the situation has changed and John Hamilton now has his benefit because of his disability.  So there is some progress.

Although some progress appears to have been made in the case of exportable benefits, insomuch that a handful of claimants have received appeal submissions from the DWP, hundreds more are still being subjected to delays and procrastination from the Exportability Team, Blackpool. Those claimants pursuing their allowances via the appeal process, having received rejection letters for reinstatement, are still being confronted with the “complex issues” argument as to why their cases have not been sent to the Tribunals Service (TS). A quoted 350 cases (DWP statistic) are currently waiting to be heard at appeal. The majority of these claimants have had their claim refused on the basis of the “26/52 week rule” (a.k.a. the modified past presence test) and “failure to appeal” at the original time of withdrawal of allowance.

In mid-August, claimant and campaigner J.H. received a 275-page submission for his appeal from the Exportability Team, advising him that his appeal was to be heard at the TS Liverpool. Given that J.H. had requested his hearing to be handled by TS Sutton, this proved a further attempt by the DWP to obstruct his right to a “fair and reasonable” hearing, as J.H. is not physically able to travel to Liverpool. After much correspondence and telephone calls, J.H.’s case was passed to Sutton and a date for a First Tier hearing given for 10 November 2009. At the same time, Age Concern England (ACE) offered J.H. legal representation, to be provided by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) who have had success in previous exportable benefit appeals.

In mid-September, J.H. received a letter from European Commissioner for Social Affairs, Jackie Morin, in response to correspondence sent some time earlier in respect to his rejected claim. The letter advised J.H. of the EC’s intention to initiate infringement proceedings against HMG for use of the “26/52 week rule”, as it is “contrary to Community law” (reference 2009/2193). Several other claimants were also advised of the infringement proceedings by the EC and, accordingly, passed this information to the DWP – who denied any knowledge of it and continued to refuse claims on this basis. In fact, recent correspondence received by Group members from Terry Moran, CEO of the PDCS, and his minions at the Exportability Team, decrees that:

“We have been notified of the decision of the European Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against the UK under Article 226 EC in relation to the "past presence" requirement.

We have carefully considered the application of the "past presence" requirement and believe it to be compatible with European Community law.”

However, following the issuance of the EC’s infringement proceedings, J.H.’s November appeal date was cancelled, as “the DWP’s presenting officer was no longer available”. Two further dates of end-November and mid-December were also rejected as unsuitable by the DWP.

During this period, another member of the Group, P.S. residing in Greece, received his appeal submission from the DWP. The main body of P.S.’s submission was made up of 22 pages of a duplication of J.H.’s submission, along with a request to the TS by the DWP that these two cases – plus one for someone residing in Spain – be linked, under the banner of “the exportability reconsideration cases”, to be heard as three lead cases. According to the request this will allow the DWP to “submit further and more submissions on the common legal issues”. Additionally, in respect to the quoted 350 similar cases, the DWP maintains that “staying other cases which raise the same legal issues will mean that once the lead cases are finally determined, the stayed cases can be almost entirely resolved without the need for further litigation”.

It should be noted that J.H. has not been told of this request by the DWP, instead only finding out due to contact with P.S. – through the UK/EU Disability & Carers Group – and via CPAG, who will be representing all three test case claimants (linked or not). To date, the cases are with a judge at TS Sutton who will be making a decision on the matter of linking by end-January 2010.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Shameful Parliament.

Below is republished an article by Paul Braithwaite, the leading fighter on behalf of the Equitable Life investors.
It displays so very clearly the self serving, time serving aspect of Politics in Britain. Is it not appalling that only 60 or so MPs actually heard the debate and yet 563 voted on that debate largely on party lines. I feel that the same stubborn resistance to act on behalf of the citizen is displayed towards the expatriate pensioner. Who will rid us of this Parliament? It is a disgrace and a joke.
Demoralised by Commons vote on Pensions fight
For a very long time I've been the co-ordinator of the Equitable Members' Action Group (EMAG), the organisation that seeks to hold this government to account for failed financial regulation of the Equitable Life pension company.

For nine years, with the support of 24,000 members, we've struggled unsuccessfully against establishment delays and denial. Yet at each step, we have prevailed and been vindicated in our claim of injustices. First this was by the independent inquiry of Lord Penrose. Then a substantial enquiry by the Brussels Parliament. A four year study by the Parliamentary Ombudsman (PO), the only formal body that can recommend compensation, reported in July 2008 on finding "A decade of regulatory failure" and a recommendation of substantial compensation for Equitable Life's victims. That was followed by two more unequivocally supportive reports by the Select Committee on Public Administration (PASC), under the chairmanship of Labour's own Dr Tony Wright.

But Yvette Cooper, then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told Parliament on 15 January that the government didn't agree with the PO and in consequence would only be setting up a limited hardship charity scheme. So, reluctantly EMAG finally went to Court, having raised more than £300,000 towards legal costs. On 15 October the Divisional Court found in EMAG's favour and instructed the government to go back to the drawing board. Not a bad track record in a long-standing David and Goliath battle, I hope you'd agree.

But on 21 October the Commons debated an Early Day Motion (1423) that I had helped Vince Cable draft. It is THE most supported motion in this parliamentary session by a country mile, with 340 MPs having signed, calling on Parliament to honour the findings of the PO on Equitable Life. That's a clear majority of voting MPs.

I sat in the Strangers Gallery on Wednesday and listened to many warming, worthy speeches. Perhaps the most outstanding was by Tony Wright, who said that it was deplorable that the debate was not subject to a free vote. About 60 MPs attended any or all of the three hour debate. Extraordinarily, when the division bell sounded 563 MPs trooped through the lobby and the government won by 25 MP's votes. How had these extra 500 plus MPs formed their voting intention without having heard one sentence of the debate? The answer was, of course, lay in the three line whip.

Many of the Labour MPs who trooped through the lobby (including Frank Dobson) had been amongst the 113 Labour MPs who had previously signed up to exactly the same wording as the debate's motion. Only 17 Labour MPs had the moral courage to vote with their conscience against the government. Glenda Jackson, who has shown consistent disdain for Equitable Life's sufferers, was not one of them.

I came away utterly disillusioned with Westminster and convinced that there's more power, honesty and justice in Camden Town Hall than there is in the Commons. No wonder voters are turning away and disgusted with their MPs - with some honourable exceptions. The fight continues.....

Paul Braithwaite


Monday, October 26, 2009

French MPs for France represent UK French Residents!

To go to the start of this blog - click here

The British Citizen abroad is denied a lifetime's right to vote as a British Citzen  - Ah! if one was Italian, Romanian, Polish, almost any other nation - and now the French go even further!  -Look at CONCERN TWO below.

From The Times   October 26, 2009

French expatriates in UK to have MP in national Parliament

Adam Sage in Paris

In the exclusive streets of South Kensington, a battle is looming over who will be chosen as, in effect, Britain’s first elected representative to the next French parliament.

Legislation has been passed to give French citizens who live abroad their own MPs in the 2012 national elections. The law creates 11 constituencies for expatriates — a move that officials say is without international precedent.

The third constituency covers the UK, Irish Republic, Scandinavia and the Baltic states. But 102,470 French voters are registered in the UK, compared with 22,071 in all the other countries that make up the seat, and authorities believe that the real number of French residents in Britain is at least double the official figure. The winning candidate will therefore effectively be an MP for Britain, say French officials.

The post will be prestigious, with constituents including some of France’s most successful figures, such as Arsène Wenger, the football manager, Marc Lévy, the country’s bestselling author, and Renaud, a pop star.

Jockeying has already started, with UK branches of French parties trying to resist moves by their headquarters to nominate Paris heavyweights for the seat. The UK-based politicians say that people already established in Britain would have a better chance of being elected.

The campaign will centre around South Kensington — a bastion of the French community — where les candidats are looking to establish offices. Polling stations will be set up in the Charles de Gaulle lycée in London, as well as other places frequented by the French — which could include cafés, according to Hervé Fabre-Aubrespy, the government adviser overseeing the move. Postal and electronic voting will also be allowed.

“It is a challenge for us, because nothing similar has ever been done anywhere,” said Mr Fabre-Aubrespy. Although Italy and Portugal elect MPs to represent citizens living abroad, “no one has carved the world up into constituencies in this way”, he said.

British citizens who live overseas, for example, vote in the constituency that was their last address before leaving the country. After 15 years abroad, they lose their right to vote. Similar rules have applied in France until now.

The initiative stems from a promise by President Sarkozy to “reinforce the link between the Republic and its expatriates” — estimated at up to 2.5 million worldwide. Axelle Lemaire, of the opposition French Socialist Party in London, said: “French people who live abroad must be represented to defend their living conditions . . . Their current representatives do not have the political weight to do that. It is a democratic anomaly.”

But she accused Mr Sarkozy of “butchery” in drawing up districts which critics say are designed to enhance the prospects of his party. There is also anger over the abolition of 11 constituencies in France to make room for those abroad.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Voting,Euros, Care, and the UK Parliament

To go to start of blog click here.
Years ago I visited Auschwitz.  The images have frequently been recalled.  From time to time with a grisly image in my mind I say 'The British expatriate would meekly be led to Auchswitz imagining that the laws are just'.  That same Bristish expatriate is allowing themselves or their fellow citizens to be abused here and there in so many small ways.  'It is not my problem!' they would say.  'I do not want to vote.'  Let the £ drop; let my fellow citizens go hungry; let me be restricted in my home country; let my children suffer in the educational system of England; let the teachers in retirement in France be overtaxed; let the aged who would wish to retire to Europe be financially hard-hit; let us be non-citizens in the wider Europe.
Britain in Europe?  Envisage the Future!  Britain it seems, flutters its eyelids towards America.  Is it so important for Gordon Brown to butter up Obama?  The British nation  turns its back on Europe.  The residents of the UK are hardly conscious of Europe and it seems are increasingly euro-sceptic.  Yet Europe grows daily more powerful.  Britain straddles Europe and the USA.  The USA
only respects Britain if Britain has a major role in Europe.  YET Britain stands outside the euro-zone. DISASTER!  It will sink doing 'the splits' painfully between Europe and the USA.   Do not we all see the effect of this blinkered policy all around us.  Some retired expats are being forced into poverty.  Every retired expat is watching their expenditure.
WHY this disaster?  Because Britain is the only major European nation not to have linked its currency to the Euro [Sweden is the only other exception].  It could have taken the same approach as Denmark, where the krone is linked to the Euro.  The inward facing UK population would never have noticed.
Now to change tack a little and view other aspects of British Life.  One wonders why so many 'asylum seekers' crowd to the shores of France to seek entry to Britain?  Why?  To learn English? I doubt it. A frequent suggestion is to to benefit from the NHS and benefits system; but is that true?  Will the NHS by being free to everyone bring down the British Nation?  A small group of expatriates is not only being taxed by the UK which helps to support the NHS but themselves have to find extra resources from a seriously declining income to cover their own health costs.   Could not some investigative journalist find out by questioning the immigrants  in Calais -what is it that makes the UK so attractive? Again, changing one's viewpoint - is one not somewhat appalled at the (hopefully a small section- who can say?) sub-culture of youth in Britain.  Will one's own family be ensnared in this?
Unfortunately it seems most expatriates, inexplicably, do not care a toss and will increasingly be led to damnation.
Yet if they would only make sure that they exercise their RIGHT to be represented in the UK Government they could make their voices heard!  Many have already lost their RIGHT, but morally it is their RIGHT.
Write to your MPs or to the Minister for Europe.
In Spring 2010 there is an election.  Make your voice heard!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Report by a retired Police sergeant on life in France.

Tax is taxing when you are an ex-pat, (amongst other things).

When you decide to move abroad you hope to leave behind the many irritations of life but of course that is a false hope. As soon as you put down your roots again the bills recommence and you also have to tackle the many things that one has to do to ensure life continues on an even keel. Health, tax, household bills et cetera have to be sorted, compounded in our case by having to sort it all out in a foreign tongue and understanding different regimes.

These irritations are short lived as you settle into the rhythm of living abroad and establish yourself in the new life you have chosen. However, as you continue to live your life you realise that there are irritations that cannot be easily dealt with as an ex-pat. You suddenly become aware that you forego some rights when you move out of the UK if, (as we were), you are honest from the outset, about your intentions. These irritations are a result of UK policy and relate in particular to people such as us on a local authority pension. Whilst this article may not be of much interest to those still in the UK, (but their support would be terrific), I trust it will be of interest to other ex-pats who I hope may rally to the cause. Some of the information may be of use, particularly to anyone in France, but also in many other respects to others in Spain or elsewhere in the EU.

The first irritation is taxation. When you leave UK shores you cannot choose where the tax on your occupational pension is paid. It will be deducted at source in the UK before you receive it. This has implications that are not immediately obvious but I will come to that later.

The second irritation is that you will lose your right to vote in the UK after you have been abroad for fifteen years. Well, that is your problem, you might say. I might agree with you except for the fact we will continue to pay taxation in the UK until the end of our days. Therefore we will eventually have in effect, taxation without representation, ‘comme la Boston Tea Party’.

The third irritation is the nonsense that is loosely called ‘The Freedom of Movement’ within the EU. On the face of it there is a freedom of movement within EU Communities but that freedom does not carry with it all the rights of a UK citizen. You cannot, for instance, port any benefits when you move abroad unless, (in certain circumstances), you are already in receipt of those benefits and even then they may be stopped. One of the benefits that ex-pats may or may not get, (and this may not get much sympathy from some in the UK), is the Winter Fuel Allowance. It should be possible for all retired UK citizens in Europe under EU Regulations to receive all elderly persons' benefits, related to age, available to similar persons in the UK especially the Winter Fuel Payment, pension credits but it is not that simple.

One must be beware of the political overtones of the title ’Winter Fuel Payment’. It was instituted in 1997/8 by Gordon Brown to ‘help out the elderly with their winter fuel costs’. That is to say it is indeed a supplement to the payments to the elderly. Instead of raising the Old Age Pension, which is taxable, this payment, which is non-taxable, is given to ALL elderly persons, whether they are rich or poor, whether they live in the Scilly Isles or the Shetlands.

But also there are many not so well off pensioners living on the Continent who are refused it. They often are living in colder winters than the pensioners in Devon and Cornwall.

The Government declared at the outset that it was only payable to RESIDENTS in the UK. The European Court again decreed that this was illegal. But the Government has refused to grant it to anyone who left the UK before 1998, and of course if one left the UK before the age of 60 but attained the age of access to the OAP whilst resident on the continent, they also will never receive it. Thus someone who leaves the UK aged 59, (as we did), will not receive the WFP, whilst someone who leaves aged 60, will receive it. In fact of the 360,000 old age pensioners in continental Europe, only 43,000 are paid the WFP. ALL would receive it if they lived in the UK. Many are clearly not claiming it, although they are entitled to do so. It is an unfair system to those who have paid and still continue to pay taxation and other contributions to the UK.

There is no representation for ex-pats and not many are interested in this state of affairs, except of course the French when it comes to their own nationals in Britain. An article in The Telegraph on the 17th April 2009 tells us that France mulls over an 'MP for Britain' to represent French ex-pats in the French parliament, it said, ‘France has unveiled radical plans to create an "MP for Britain" who will sit in the French parliament. The new French overseas constituency of the UK would have its own députés to voice the interests of the estimated 400,000 French ex-pats living in Britain. Under the proposals, Britain would become one of 11 new French constituencies located in countries with large French immigrant populations.

Other countries to get their own French representatives to voice their interests in the French parliament would include Germany, Switzerland and the US. The scheme is the brainchild of French interior affairs minister Alain Marlaix, and has the backing of President Nicolas Sarkozy and his centre-right UMP party. More than two million French living overseas can already vote in their national elections, but only for an MP with a seat in France. The new foreign constituencies would give French ex-pats more direct representation at home in France, Mr Marlaix said.

"This is the first time in any country in the world that something like this had been done," he said. "The new overseas MPs will have identical status to any other MP based in France.

"They will be elected in the same way and speak for the French expatriates they represent."

The UK on the other hand has little or no interest in its ex-pats and they in turn have few rights. If we travel to the UK we cannot access the NHS other than for emergency treatment provided we have our E.H.1.C issued in France before we travel. I have a feeling that an immigrant to the UK will have that entitlement the moment he/she arrives and state that they are a resident in the UK.

There are many other issues and some of the above I have taken from a website set up by a retired Head teacher from the UK called Brian Cave. Brian, who is now 77 years of age, has been fighting for better rights for EU ex-pats and has had quite a bit of coverage in the papers here in France as well as on other media such as French radio. You can find out more by clicking on this link

Brian has petitioned the European Court of Human Rights and has had his petition acknowledged. There are three stages. The next stage would be information that the petition is an acceptable area for discussion. Then comes an open debate by the EU committee on the issue. Then comes the EU ruling and then the requests to the French and British Governments to correct their operations. It will be interesting to see what decisions are made but credit must go to Brian for his lone fight for his actions have been taken on his own account but if he is successful many could benefit from his hard work. He can be contacted via his website and would welcome any support. He has his UK MP, Mark Harper, on his side but the ridiculous thing is that because Brian has lived in France for eleven years he will lose that link in four years time, (at 81 years of age!). Brian also tells me of another MP, he says, “Roger Gale (MP for Thanet North) who is superb fighter. He has a house in the Dordogne not far from my residence. He has a good grasp of the situation. I always write to these two together out of politeness to Mark Harper my official representative.” He concludes by saying, “NO LABOUR MP shows the slightest inclination to support me. Some are more than downright rude.” Brian’s campaign slogan is, ’IF ONE DOES NOTHING _ NOTHING GETS DONE!’ and that cannot be disputed.

I said earlier that I would mention the implications of having your Local Authority pension taxed in the UK. As described if you are already in receipt of your pension before you move abroad it will be taxed at source and this cannot be changed. It by law, [Double Taxation Treaty], will ALWAYS be taxed at source in the UK at whatever time you receive it. The law is that it is received FOR SERVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Note that although it comes via the public purse it is not because of that circumstance. NHS personnel receive their pensions via the public purse but their pensions are exportable for tax! Their service is considered to be to a National Health Trust, (apparently), and NOT to any government, ridiculous. I do not profess to be an expert in this and I would counsel anyone to seek professional advice before committing themselves but in relation to France Brian emailed me the following which is part of an email relating to taxation, and in particular relating to the old age pension, that I would be willing to share with others who are affected..

‘A very major gripe of mine is that because one is taxed in the UK one cannot obtain any tax relief on that tax via the French authorities. Especially home helps and even gardener help. These attract a relief of 50% of the outlay. When times were good I took out a continuing donation to support the education of a small boy in Cambodia (I know his name and receive the class reports and he writes to me). Under French taxation rules I could get 75% tax relief. I get nothing. For this reason my taxation is about 1,000 euros a year more than if I were a French National with exactly the same sources of income. [That statement is exactly true in all respects.]’…..

I contacted Brian, as our position will change next year when I hit 65 and become eligible for the UK Old Age Pension. This has implications that I will not discuss here but if anyone is in a similar position and requires more information I am happy for the Editor of O&B to pass any emails on to me and I will send on anything I know that may assist. There are peculiarities in France in relation to occupational pensions that do not exist in Spain as the Spanish Authorities, (for once), have implemented the correct procedure but France has not done so, (according to UK authorities who may, of course, be passing the buck).

Brian is doing a good job in fighting the corner for ex-pats although there are some areas I cannot see him winning such as stabilising the pound against the Euro, although he seems to make some good points in this regard also.

This is a complex issue but I ask you to take time to have a look at Brian’s website and drop him a line, or even better, drop a line to your MP and others he mentions on his site. If you don’t know who your MP is log on to this website type in your postcode and it will tell you who he or she is.

I will be contacting N.A.RP.O, which is an excellent pressure group for pensioners, but do not seem to have any links to overseas-retired officers. I would like to know why. When I moved abroad I came out of the organisation, as I could not see it being of any assistance to me living abroad. I may have been hasty in that respect as I may be unaware of support in the organisation that may assist retired officers overseas in such areas as incorrectly implemented government policy.

One final point, if you think that it will all go away and you need not concern yourself about these things as an ex-pat, can I draw your attention to an article I saw in The Independent of the 20th September 2008.

This proposes a tax on all currency transfers, which will be yet another tax on hard pressed ex-pats. Let's hope for a cut off for any proposed tax so that any money transferred for living expenses would be exempt. However, anyone transferring a large amount for a house purchase for instance, would have little hope of any exemption if this were brought in. Not holding my breath though .... : - (

I started off by saying that life’s irritations follow you about and of course that is true wherever you live. I have to say though that those irritations are more manageable here in France than they were in the UK in spite of the language difficulties. The British character possesses a strong sense of fair play and injustice is not something easily tolerated. UK ex-pats should not be abandoned and it is a disgrace that the UK do not treat its nationals correctly. It is not a French problem it is a UK one and it should be addressed forthwith.


Monday, July 6, 2009

The OECD – does it know what it is doing?

To return to front page click here
On the subject of the Unfair Treatment of Public Service Pensioners in France.
My correspondence on this with the Tax Treaty Team in Whitehall is one sided. Generally I write: they do not reply. To my first letter they replied after some months and informed me that they ‘were following the rules”. Fairness and morality played no part. They and some others refer to the Rules as laid down by the OECD. So this is an area to explore.
OECD --The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. As it itself proclaims, "it is an international organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy". This body was founded in 1961 with its headquarters in Paris. Thirty countries have signed up to its deliberations. It has a budget of 303 million Euros a year.
You can read more by going to
Amongst its other activities it advises on Double Taxation Conventions. To achieve this it produces a Model Construction for such Conventions which the thirty countries follow. To explain how the Model should operate there is a commentary on it. This extends to about 400 pages and is viewable via this following link.

It is apparent that the intentions of the OECD are admirable. It is to prevent tax payers being overtaxed whether they be individuals or organisations. Unfortunately the end result is, for this particular individual and those like me, quite the contrary. The OECD has made the whole rigmarole extremely complicated and yet it misses out on important details.
Inherent in the Conventions is the idea that monies paid out by Governments to people for their pensions should be taxed by those Governments.
As far as the British citizen in concerned, the notion fails, and fails miserably and ludicrously. It fails because the ruling states that pensions ‘paid for services to the Government’ are those so affected. By some ludicrous quirk, it seems that NHS workers are not considered as working for the Government. So it is that such pensions do not have to be taxed by the British Government if they live abroad.
Another anomaly arises with pensions paid via the Teachers Superannuation Scheme. This is a Government sponsored body and works smoothly. But there are many teachers working in the private sector who pay into this scheme, and the pensions of those persons who live abroad are also not taxable by the British Government.
So what about those, like me, who have worked in both sectors. Oh well, the British Government want to tax me on the lot! And I fear the OECD seem to think in their 417 page commentary that such a situation is acceptable. Not to me!
So the British Government want to rake in the tax on my income.
And the French Government go along with this. But I desire to live in France as the French do. For instance, a Frenchman on a modest income, as mine is, would be able to obtain reductions on his tax payments.
Here we touch on the ignorance of the taxation systems amongst the British expatriates who have such British Government pensions. The vast majority are probably quite unaware that they are potentially losing out because of these stupid rules laid down by the OECD in collusion with the thirty Governments who have signed up to the OECD.
How many are aware that reductions of tax are available for employment of
1. A home help. and 2. A gardener. ?
These reductions are CONSIDERABLE, They amount to 50% of the outlay. The reduction can reach thousands of euros a year, and could eliminate all income tax anywhere!
Reductions are also available for funds paid to charities (75% no less, of the outlay).
These reductions are denied to those who pay tax to Britain (unless they enjoy a considerable income taxable in France as well.)
The loss to me last year approached 1,000 euros. And now I cannot afford to employ a home help, which I could if this ruling did not apply! I still support a charity to help the education of a boy in Cambodia, since such a promise is a long term commitment, a commitment made before the collapse of the pound.
As we get older, and I am close to my 77th birthday, one needs home-helps and gardeners. Why should these confounded Governments, aided blindly by the OECD deny me the advantages available to the ordinary Frenchman? And more! This situation is contrary to Article 25 of the said Double Taxation Convention and YET the bureaucrats do not answer my letters!
This is a matter which should raise the hackles of every teacher, military personnel, local Government pensioner, fireman and more who have retired to France. Yet I fear few seem to realise the situation.
I suspect that the French Government doesn’t realise the situation either. But I have informed them. And they do not reply either. I have written three times!

What does one do now?
I wait a while and then I write to the European Union Parliament who operate a petition service open to all European Citizens.

To those who read this – please can you draw the attention of any affected by this circumstance to read this article and ask them to get in touch with me, to join with me in raising it with the French and British Governments, and if it should be necessary, the EU parliament.
Brian Cave

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Appalling Government!

To return to front page click here
Below is the ABSOLUTELY appalling Government response to a fairly put petition by the originator, Norman Walker. His request was JUST. I myself know of an elderly lady who is in hardship. The WFP did not exist when she emigrated to France to live with her daughter. The Government’s response is mean and penny pinching; it displays a shallowness of intellect; a disregard for the poor and needy; a lack of concern for the British citizen; it displays a lack of understanding about the concept of Europe; it displays a lack of statesmanship
; it is disgraceful.
The number of people affected is small, none can be younger than 75, and the number will not increase. And note, few of the disaffected will have the vote! [The blog site expands on the issue at length.]
What also, I ask, is the attitude of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to this response?

Thursday 4 June 2009
Fairfuelhelp - epetition response
We received a petition asking:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to pay the Winter Fuel Allowance to UK pensioners in EU countries who left UK before 1998.”
Details of Petition:
“Those of us who left UK before the allowance started are currently excluded. This is arbitrary and unfair. Why does a pensioner who left in 1998 (or since) get it but one who left in 1997 (or before) not get it? To favour more recent expatriates in this way is illogical and discriminatory. Please correct this and help us in our present difficulties as you are endeavouring so hard to do for many other Britich citizens affected by the economic recession. And PLEASE HELP US NOW our need is URGENT. (See my letter to you of 26 December 2008 - as yet unacknowledged and unanswered).”
• Read the petition
• Petitions homepage
Read the Government’s response
Winter Fuel Payments were introduced in the winter of 1997/98 to give older people in Great Britain reassurance that they can afford to turn up their heating in the winter months without worrying about the cost. Older people are targeted because they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather in the winter months. The Winter Fuel Payment was introduced as a measure, amongst others, that would help deliver the Government’s target of eradicating fuel poverty, as far as reasonably practicable, in vulnerable households by 2010 in England. Similar targets exist in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
To qualify for a payment a person has to be aged 60 or over and ordinarily resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland during the qualifying week. The qualifying week for Winter Fuel Payments is set in legislation as the week commencing from the third Monday in September. For winter 2008/09 the qualifying week was 15th-21st September 2008.
In July 2002 the Winter Fuel Payment Scheme was extended to people residing outside the UK but within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland who had previously qualified for a payment in the UK. This followed discussions with the European Commission when the Government agreed that the payments were covered by the Regulation (EEC) 1408/71, which provides for some social security benefits to continue to be paid in another EEA country. This regulation does not enable a person to become entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment, or any other benefit, for the first time after leaving the UK.
People will not be able to get a Winter Fuel Payment in another EEA country if they left the UK before 5 January 1998. This is because they will have left before the scheme began and will not have qualified for a payment.
The Winter Fuel Payment was designed primarily to help people living in the United Kingdom. The Government is content that its approach to paying Winter Fuel Payments to people living in the EEA is both reasonable and lawful.

Sunday, April 26, 2009




I don’t know whether you noticed or not, but there was an interesting headline in newspapers recently, announcing that President Sarkozy was proposing that French Expatriates, those now living and working overseas, should be represented more fully in the French Senate, by their own Deputés.. He was proposing that the French in Britain, at least 400,000 at last count, should have their specific representative, as should also French citizens in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Monaco, Latin America, the US, the Asia Pacific region, the middle East, and Africa.

Not surprisingly the Socialist left howled with rage, denouncing the scheme as “Closet Gerry Mandering” (a hark back to corrupt politics in the UK), further saying “Studies show French people living abroad are more likely to vote for a centre right party than a left wing party.”

Considering that these same expats have likely left the country because of these same left wing, obstructionalist, strike riven, extremely expensive but somewhat unbalanced policies, in order to earn a living, they have a point.

And the hell with Democracy, and the right of everyman to a vote.

However at least the French Socialists had the guts to say it out loud and admit it.

Whereas of course, our own Dear New Lab UK Government has never had the guts to admit that it will do absolutely anything to deny the right to Expatriates to vote.

First of all they limited one’s right to vote in the UK, based on number of years living outside the UK, meantime welcoming thousands, upon hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers, legal or illegal, (and benefit claimants) into the inner cities, their political power base.

You as an Expatriate may well be paying your taxes to the UK, but they will do their utmost to deny you the vote.

And Registering to vote from overseas becomes ever more complicated.

The latest salvo in the campaign, which followed shortly on the most disastrous Budget in modern history, when New Lab, thinly disguised as the newly totally politicised Civil Service, let leash their political heavily overpaid spin meister PR Rottweiler’s on “Benefit Fraudsters” on the Costa Blanca, Costa Money, Spain.

This achieved headlines only on BBC news but very little elsewhere. Why, one wonders.

This heavily mis-targeted salvo left everyone wondering for heaven’s sake, why wasn’t the Dept. of Social Security pursuing the rampant Benefit Fraud – and by god it is rampant all over the UK – back home. Hallo, excuse me, where have you been all these years?

But of course, anything to try and take the attention of what actually was happening back at home, including the hugely rich and disgusting Smeargate scandal straight out of Downing Street, featuring New Lab Rottweilers, Damian McBride and Derek Draper - and those nasty people who live abroad, theoretically in the lap of luxury, all those rich gits, are just sitting targets, right! Never mind that lots of them, in fact most of them, are right minded British citizens, who have paid into the UK systems all their working lives, many of whom still pay tax to the UK.

Therefore, as New Lab reasoning goes, “They are not going to vote for us, therefore find any reason possible to discriminate against them and disenfranchise them.”

Democracy hell!

For example rightful Disability Benefits for Expats. The fight goes on. MP’s like Roger Gale, of Thanet North are fighting tooth and nail on behalf of Expats for their rights.

See below an extract of letter written by Roger Gale to Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled of the Dept. of Works Pensions –which Dept. had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the European Court of Justice and whom ever since have been dragging their feet in executing what the ECJ says is a fair judgment.

“I have to reiterate that it seems to me that the Government is seeking to find every way of avoiding the spirit and to some extent the letter of the findings of the European Court of Justice.

….I want, however, to at this stage take issue with one very specific point made in the second and third paragraphs of the second page of your letter.

I simply cannot accept that it is reasonable for you to assert that “where no appeal was made, decisions made before the ECJ Ruling on the 18th October cannot now be revised because it was not until that court ruling that these decisions were shown to be errors of law”. The fact of the matter is that your decision makers made erroneous decisions that were erroneous in law and passed the finds of those decisions to claimants. Many claimants, not understanding the manner in which these matters work, will have assumed that to appeal would have been pointless and would not therefore at that point have exercised their rights. It was only once the European Court had exercised it’s judgement that many ex-patriot claimants became aware of the fact that they had the right of appeal and lodged those appeals. I believe, therefore, that you are wrong in substance and wrong in law in your assertion. I would ask you to address this single and specific issue immediately and I will revert to you with other matters arising from your letter in due course and once I have sought further opinions.”

Roger gale continued his fight in a letter to the BBC and other UK media following the despicable article (24 April) on benefit fraud in Spain, saying:

“Nobody should condone the abuse of our benefit system, wherever it takes place. The BBC did not need to send a camera crew and reporter on a "freebie" to the Costa del Sol or anywhere else in Spain to uncover instances of benefit fraud. We know that it is taking place on their doorstep in White City and the evidence is to be found using the sports facilities of the country on a daily basis as "disabled" claimants enjoy fresh air and exercise! The fact is that the government has, while making it harder for genuine claimants to receive benefits, signally failed to root out abuse of the system.

“It is a sadness, though, that this report will have distracted attention from the other side of this coin: while there are clearly some UK citizens living abroad and "playing the system" there are others facing illness and genuine hardship that are entitled to assistance that they are being denied.

“The European Court of Justice has ruled that Disability Living Allowance and Carers Allowance, for example, are "exportable" benefits but there is a significant number of UK citizens living within the EU and Switzerland who are finding it difficult if not impossible to claim benefits that they desperately need.

These are not "benefit scroungers". They are people who have, in the main, paid UK taxes throughout their working lives and who have chosen to retire to other countries within Europe. Many of them have served their country in the armed forces or the Foreign and Commonwealth office. They are now growing old and they should be receiving the assistance to which others, arriving in the UK having not paid a penny in UK tax at all, are apparently able to receive automatically.

“I believe that the government, while failing to control benefit fraud, is at the same time seeking to wriggle out of its obligations to a small but significant number of citizens(including some of my own constituents) and that is a disgrace that ought, also, to be highlighted by the UK media."

Re Sarkozy’s idea for MPS for Expats, I raised the idea with Roger Gale, who replied:

“Personally, although I appreciate that a lot of ex-pats would like "their own" MP, I still feel that if the system works as it is supposed to, if overseas voters write to the MP for their last UK address and if that MP then takes responsibility for his/her ex-pat constituents (as I do myself) then there should be no need for another representative. (There are, in fact, about 200 too many MPs in the UK already!)

I cannot influence the Labour party of course but I can and will try to ensure that Conservative MPs - and our candidates for the next election - appreciate the importance of representing their overseas constituents as well as seeking their votes!”

Roger Gale, MP.

So if you want your rights protected, REGISTER TO VOTE! Support your MP.

Distribution to Expat websites.

Anita Rieu-Sicart


1142 Route des Miquelets
83510 Lorgues
Tel: 04 94 04 49 60

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Extract of a letter sent to Mr. Timms MP Financial Secretary to the Treasury

To go to front page click here.
Mr. Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury,
HM Treasury,
1, Horse Guards Road, London,
Three teachers all with identical teaching careers (except as described below) and all with the same superannuation payments to the same teachers’ superannuation scheme.
a/. A British citizen, taught in a local authority school
b/. A British citizen, taught in a private school.
c/. A French citizen, taught in a local authority school.

All three retire to France. All require home-help support (this attracts a 50% rebate of the costs against tax in France).

The pensions of b/. and c/. are taxed in France.
The pension of a/. is required to be taxed in the UK as his service is deemed to be ‘to the British Government or local government’ – These are the rules of the Double Taxation Convention between Britain and France.

The taxation burden of a/. is considerably greater than b/. or c/. largely, though not entirely, because the rebates on tax which accrue to the costs of the home help are not available to a/. since his tax is paid to the UK.

A. I taught 8 years in the private sector and 24 years in the ’state’ sector. Nevertheless all 100% of my pension is taxed in the UK.

Question. Will you agree with me that under the rules one quarter of my pension should be ‘exportable’ to France?

B. Because of the French taxation system vis-à-vis the British imposition of the Double Taxation Convention on my pension, I am at least 1000 euros a year worse off than the retired teachers who fall under category b/. or c/.
Question . Will you agree that this is an inequitable situation?

C. The above heavier tax load could be resolved if I renounced my British nationality and adopted French nationality.

Question. Would you advise me to change my national status to achieve equitability in taxation?
Since your answer to this third (rhetorical) question must surely (?) be ‘no’. Then I must ask you;-
What will you (HM Government) do to ensure that my taxation burden is equitable? ..."

Monday, February 16, 2009

DLA, Attendance or Carer’s Allowances -- Pensioners AND OTHERS who have been deprived of their rights by the action of Whitehall! ACT!

To return to introductory posting of this blog.(Four Concerns)... click
This posting is now out-of -date but is retained for interest. - More recent postings on benefits (see Index) should be read.

On February 24th it seemed that much has been achieved.
Please refer to the Concern 1 links.
The matter still lies in limbo-land.
Read the sterling efforts of Roger Gale M.P.

Letter from Tima Hamilton...
Along with some fellow campaigners, we have decided on an email "bombing campaign" to force the DWP/Exportability Team to sit up and take notice. Here is what we would like people to do:

"For those who adhered to the Exportability Team's advice that "there is no need to contact us again on this matter", may I suggest that this is totally ignored (as we are!) and that all affected parties send an email demanding the reinstatement and back payment of their DLA (care component), Carers or Attendance Allowance in accordance with ECJ ruling C-299/05 of 18 October 2007. NOTE: Make sure that you put the email for the personal attention of: Ms Kettle.

regards Tina Hamilton

You can also refer to the reply made to the House of Commons on 2 February, during questions to the Works and Pensions team, by Ms Rosie Winterton (to MP Roger Gale's question see, whereby she stated:

"We have been clear that if people claimed the benefit before they moved abroad, they are entitled to continue to claim it."

This statement has been reiterated in a letter to Roger Gale, a copy of which can be downloaded from: and attached to your email.

The email address (in case you don't have it to hand) is:

In addition, copy the same email to the following two address:
This is the email address for Minister for Pensions, Ms Winterton's office.
This is the email address to make official complaints to in respect to the Exportability Team (and any other DWP department).

When you receive the bog standard excuse from the Exportability Team, send a copy of their reply to with a suitable complaint to the customer services address (line above)."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

To find out who is your MEP

[Information from the European Commission]
Consult the European Parliament website at the following address:
On the first page, click on your preferred language - English, (bottom line, second item) or French. On the resulting page click on "Your MEPs" (along the top).
A map of the EU will appear. Click on France and a list of MEPs by regional constituency will appear. Clicking on any name will give details of that MEP including an address.
Alternatively, you could certainly find out who your local MEPs are by asking at the nearest Mairie.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Absurdity of Government Pensions

To go to start of this blog, click here.
Pensions which are ‘deemed’ to be paid by the Government for services rendered are never allowed to be taxed abroad (i.e. exported) in France or Spain or anywhere else in Europe where a Double Taxation Convention exists between the UK and the EU country. That means, as far as I know, all of them.

Strangely NHS pensions are almost all ‘exportable’ even though they are paid by the paymaster general of the UK Government. The NHS staff are presumably not considered as having rendered service to the Government.

Police, Firemen, Military personnel. and civil servants and local Government workers – all are deemed to be paid by the Government or local Government.

If teachers were employed by the local Government then their pensions are not exportable. HOWEVER, if a teacher was employed at a private school, then their pension is exportable, even though it was acquired through exactly the same teachers’ superannuation scheme. If you had worked in both sectors the situation is confused, and quite ridiculous and impossible to disentangle. If you are French or changed your nationality and had worked in any school in Britain, then it becomes once more confused. [Gilbert and Sullivan might have invented it!]
The situation is quite stupid.
For Teachers.
If you are a State sector pensioner you are unfairly treated as things stand. If the French interpreted the Convention in the same manner as the Spanish interpret the UK/Spanish Convention, you would be much better off.
If you are a private sector pensioner, your source of income will be identical but you are (or can be) fairly treated.