Friday, December 16, 2011

The case of whether James Preston can vote hits the sand?

Who is James Preston?  He is a English businessman who lives in Spain. His last home in Britain was in Wandsworth, London,  more than 15 years ago.  When he applied to Wandsworth Council in 2009 to be registered as an overseas voter, he was told that because he left for Spain more than 15 years ago, he could not register as a voter.
Mr. Preston took the case to the High Court in London, with his Counsel acting ‘pro bono publico’ (for the public cause and without a fee).  
The final (almost) phase of this was brought to judgement on 8th November 2011 before the judges Lord Justice Elias and Mr. Justice King.  The case number is CO/3344/2010
Sad to say the judges rejected Mr. Preston’s case.
Is it stuck in the sand?  Well there are some interesting comments on the case both from the Counsel for the defence (the Council and the Government) and judges.
Let us look at these.
1.                  Mr Coppel (Counsel  for the Government) …  “Imposing a period of fifteen years as the cut-off point for eligibility to vote from overseas does not appear to be either disproportionate (etc)…………… Over such a time period, the applicant may reasonably be regarded as having weakened the link between himself and the United Kingdom … and he cannot argue that he is affected by the acts of political institutions to the same extent as resident citizens. It may be noted that in European Union countries, persons in the position of the applicant may generally vote in European Parliament elections. It is also open to the applicant, whether or not he so wishes, to seek to obtain the vote in the country of residence, if necessary by applying for citizenship.”
I am profoundly insulted by the last sentence.  These people confound VOTING with REPRESENTATION.   They assume that all that is necessary is the physical act of  THE VOTE!!  Help us all.  Are these ‘counsels’ these ‘civil servants’ so utterly blinkered?   We citizens need to be able to have our views HEARD.  We need to be able to speak to those who make laws which affect us and our families still resident in the UK.  We want our views heard on the matter of how our income is derived and the regulations which affect our savings. We want our views heard on the terms of treaties which affect our lives within the EU, and the future of  the structures and life within the UK to which , one day, many of us may need to return.
The link between us and the UK does not diminish with time.  We are not so much less affected than the general run of residents in the UK and getting less so with time. It is just not true!
Do these people realise that we, who live in Europe communicate instantaneously with our friends and families in Britain, and that we are aware as instantaneously  through television and the internet with events in Britain as THEY HAPPEN!

Lord Justice Elias wrote in his submission
I accept that the claimant and others who have provided witness statements are genuinely upset about the rule and consider it to be unjust and unnecessary. The right to vote is a fundamental constitutional right and the claimant is aggrieved by its removal. It does not, however, follow that disenfranchisement constitutes a deterrence to free movement.   For reasons I have given, in my judgement, it does not.
The matter of ‘free movement’ is the central point of Mr. Preston’s argument in this case.  It was on that very point that the judgement went against him
The Lord Justice Elias has also said ‘The right to vote is a fundamental constitutional right’. 
Lord Justice Elias  continued  Strictly therefore the issue of justification does not arise.  However, I shall deal with it briefly in case I am wrong on the first point. 
In my view, the 15 year rule is a proportionate interference with the right of free movement.  The Government was entitled to hold that there is a legitimate objective which the rule is designed to achieve, namely to remove the right to vote from those whose links with the UK have diminished and who are not, for the most part at least, directly affected by the laws passed in the UK.  

In short – If the Government are only seeking to remove the right to vote from those who have no links with the UK – then this obviously HAS FAILED. 
I and many like me have demonstrably very strong links with the UK and will have till the grave welcomes us.  
To remove my right to be REPRESENTED in the seat of Government of my Nation is dictatorship.  Britain, is in this respect a non-democratic Nation. The Government ordains that the voice of  many of its citizens is unwanted.
This case will go to appeal.
What YOU can do
1. Give your opinion to Mark Harper MP
Mr. Harper is responsible for promoting a change in the law.
2. Make sure you give a comment on
3. Post this item to other British people.

Friday, December 9, 2011


If you will excuse my taking on the role of the prophet Cassandra, the Euro-land agreement struck in Brussels on December 8th 2011 could presage an exceedingly uncomfortable time for British expatriates in the European Union.  The scenario unfolded below is unlikely, but let us follow it.
We have before us a position whereby at least 23 nations of Europe are forming a ‘fiscal union’ .  It could well be that in time there will be 26 nations in this Euro-land  club with Britain alone remaining outside.
At the moment all 27 nations (including Britain) are signatories to the various European Union treaties from those of Rome to Maastricht.
These treaties enable British citizens variously, [though some items apply only or largely to pensioners who have never subscribed to the social care provision of their resident State (marked *)]
a. to move and live freely within Europe in any State, regardless of income.
b. to vote in local elections and become maires and councillors in their communes.
c.. receive health care cover*
d. to receive all Social Security benefits* to which they would be entitled in their home State.
e.  to receive the State pension as they would in their home State*

Now consider – as time goes on would one not imagine that the 23/26 Nations will need to change the EU treaties to serve some new circumstance? 
Is it not probable that such a circumstance could affect the arrangements with Britain?
That would trigger a referendum in Britain, if indeed the British Government were to countenance such a change.  If it did not then Britain might anyway have to pull out of the Union, for the 23/26 could not tolerate such a thorn in the flesh.

Is it not extremely likely that the right-wing faction of the Conservatives will use the existing situation today to attempt to force a referendum?   Would they succeed?

If a referendum were forced, is it not very likely that the result would force Britain out of the Union?
In the worst scenario (says Cassandra) then life for all British pensioners (450,000 of them) and quite a few other British citizens would be financially intolerable.  Many would have to go home, because their health cover collapses, and their income could drop as well.
Pensions could be frozen, the Winter Fuel payment (for those who have been allowed to receive it!) would stop.
This is the doomsday scenario –  But let us not listen to Cassandra and consider a more likely situation.
If Britain were to leave the EU a horror on such a full scale would probably, in some manner, be averted.  Britain would probably adopt the same status as Norway or Switzerland, within the EEA but outside the EU as full members. (see note at the end)
Inclusion in the EEA means that Britain still is a signatory to the regulations covering Social Security, which would mean that the pensioner should not suffer. But Britain would have no say in the future development of the EU. There would be no British MEPs in the EU parliament. Yet, Britain would still be required to subscribe financially to the EU, just as does Norway and Switzerland. 

But in all these changes where stands the opinion of the British expatriate in Europe?
They will not be asked!   The blessed few who have taken care to maintain their right to vote in the UK, will have a voice.  They will be able to vote in a referendum.
Those who left Britain more than 15 years ago will have no chance of a voice.
But will those who have a voice be heard?  One doubts it, because the tiny little voices of the expatriates are not united into one big bellow.
There is no structure for the REPRESENTATION of the British people living in Europe.   The full range of pros and cons of EEA versus EU, or leaving totally, will not be presented to them for their consideration.
We should press for representation right now!

My bet is that a referendum is likely within the next few years.

Note--- For more light on the EEA v. EU look at

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On the Matter of Frozen Pensions

An article appeared in The Telegraph on  December 1st 2011by Leah Hyslop.
It is on the absurdity of the State (Old Age) pensions being frozen when paid to people who have retired abroad,  mostly to commonwealth countries.

Curiously, the issue was raised by the Runnymede Trust which is a think-tank on race relations. To discover more  - raise this link.

Before you switch off and say ‘This has nothing to do with me!’ stop and ponder.

1   It is fascinating that the matter of the Frozen Pensions is raised via particular concern for the Asian and West African people who immigrated to Britain to seek work up to forty years ago and who wish to retire back to the country of their birth. 
In contrast, any sympathy for the retired Britons descended ancestrally from resident British stock has not up to now achieved anything at all!   If the Runnymede Trust can achieve progress – then let us praise them.  But is it not a curious development?  But the Runnymede Trust is an influential body and it may well yield results where others have failed.

2   The major slant I draw on this is the power that comes through having a Voice.
The Runnymede  Trust is a respected body and possibly the Government will listen.

If only the Expatriates would rise up as a body and declare ‘We Want a Voice’,
Then the expatriates of all colours and creeds might achieve something. 
‘We Want a Voice’    can be interpreted as
‘We want Representation’   which can in turn be interpreted as
‘We want the Vote’ – for LIFE.

If the expatriates could somehow exercise pressure on the British Government, if only!
But they never will unless they stand together, and stand up for justice.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

British Pensioners Leave Britain yet again!

 Graphs of the pensioner citizens in Europe since 1973.

Click on the graph to enlarge - to return press 'esc' or possibly the arrow < at the top of your screen.

Figures for MAY 2011 have been published by the Dept of Works & Pensions.
In spite of the recession and the huge drop in value of the £ the elderly Britons continue to leave.  Only the Commonwealth countries of Canada and Australia where the State pension is frozen has there been a fall in the number of resident pensioners.
The population in France has increased 1.5 %.  
The total outside of Europe has fallen by 0.04% . In the EU beyond Britain, it has increased by 0.04%.   The actual numbers of  pensioners who migrate are higher than they seem because one has to discount the numbers who die who are subtracted  in the total count and should be added in,because that number is replaced by new comers!
The top six nations in Europe for expatriate British pensioner citizens are.
Increases are in the last three months since February 2011 -note!
Ireland 123,210 increase of 1,020
Spain 102,000 increase of 840
France 54,980 increase of 810
Germany 38,130 increase of 330
Italy 37,900 increase of 110
Cyprus 17.61 increase of 130
Does anyone in the British Government ever ask why this migration is taking place?
Do they care?.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Insolence of the Civil Service

The Civil Service in London, as agents of the British Government, have written to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] in the case of Harry Shindler.  He is claiming the right to be represented in the Westminster Parliament.  That is, he wants to have a vote and have a say in how Britain is managed.

The Civil Service is as you might suppose, totally opposed to Mr. Shindler’s request. 

[A little background:-  Mr. Shindler is 90 years old.  He fought in World War II in Italy, notably at the Anzio beachhead which was a bloody experience,  and later settled in Italy after an earlier spell at home in the UK.  He married an Italian girl.  He has been resident in Italy for 29 years (since the age of 60!) but has returned frequently, even in 2011, on visits to England.  He has always been passionate for the Rights of his fellow Citizens, having founded the British expatriate Association in Italy and active in the Italy Star Association of British ex-soldiers. He brought a case on expatriate voting rights before the ECHR] 

The letter from the Civil Service (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) says or implies several astonishing ideas.
1.  It suggests that Mr. Shindler has not exhausted ‘domestic remedies’ (i.e. a passage through British Courts) prior to submitting his application.  So?  No doubt a delaying tactic.
2.   It indicates that Mr. Shindler has not demonstrated that he has been adversely affected by not being able to vote in the last 14 years or in the future.  Well, he hasn’t lost an arm, or caught some horrible disease because he hasn’t been able to vote.  But he hasn’t been able to influence the political progress in England in his own small way.  You may as well say ‘let’s take away the vote from everyone,  no one will suffer or be adversely affected!’
3.  The letter observes that other cases of a similar nature have been disallowed in the past, and imply that the development of expatriate communities and internet and other communications are no different from 2007, when the last case was heard.   Oh yes they are, and continue changing at a great pace.  Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, are examples of the rapid convergence of the world.  The democratic movements in the Arab Nations and elsewhere similarly so.  Tunisians vote for Tunisia in Canberra, Moroccans in  Cahors.  French, Russians and Poles in London.   But the Brits cannot vote in Paris!
4.  The letter claims that after 29 years in Italy, Mr. Shindler is unlikely to be considered as domiciled in the UK.  Oh yes he could!   The crazy tax laws of the UK make it well nigh impossible to reject British domicility if you are a British subject.     In legal terms you cannot reject your domicility unless you positively take on another!  Mr. Shindler has claimed that he has British domicility.  Mr. Shindler says he wants to stay British.  That alone is evidence of his Britishness.
5. The letter implies that if he wants to have a national vote, then he could take out Italian nationality.  Does not that make any loyal Briton angry! 
It isn’t the vote as a mechanical activity which is under discussion.  It is his bond to the nation of birth and for the society for which he has fought in many ways for most of his life.  Even though Mr. Shindler has been resident in Italy (now) for 31 years, that means that for 59 years he has been resident in and devoted to Britain, and is still so today!
Is it not despicable for a Civil Servant to say to a British Citizen, ‘you can transfer allegiance to another State if you want the vote’.  In the wider world beyond Europe it is a ludicrous notion.  [Japan? Russia? Thailand?] It can be problematic enough in Europe (e.g, Denmark, which forbids dual nationality).
But this deplorable suggestion shows the crass misunderstanding of the nature of Europe.  Europe is where the borders are free to cross for the people of all its nations. 
If you are a young person you may at times work in France, Holland, Italy and indeed Britain over the course of twenty years.  But you remain British at heart.  Is it expected by the Civil Servants that you should change your nationality at each move?  What insolence!  What ignorant thinking! How they lack a sense of history.
Yes indeed, in Europe it would make great sense to be able to vote where your most profound seat of interest chiefly lies.  I have considerable sympathy for those young Britons who live in Spain, Italy, France or Germany and who are denied Representation in their State of residence. This is a matter which the European Union should urgently address.   But even to these people, I observe to them that it is the treaties between Britain and the EU which enable many to live in their host country.  If their loyalties lie mostly or entirely with their country of residence, then they should in truth, take out the nationality of their host country.  If they retain a loyalty to Britain, then should they not also have the privilege of having a say in how Britain is managed?  More so, if they are almost totally dependent on Britain.  The people of Europe are the nerve threads of  the spirit of European progress. And Britons, each one of them, are ambassadors of British culture.
For the elderly who have retired to a continental country then the picture can be different.  For the retired Briton who has so many ties to their land of birth, in terms of family, income, even taxation and of course memories, to deny them Representation in Parliament is unthinking, and crassly insolent.

The Civil Service claims to speak for Britain, the British Nation.  The British Nation is the totality of its Citizens.  The Civil Service is denying a voice to a great number of British Citizens. Should we tolerate this ‘Insolence of Office’!  Should not the people speak?  Give the people a voice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Remembrance Day 2011

Thoughts from an expatriate - an expatriate who feels ignored and shelved by the Government of Britain on this most important day when all elderly Britons remember the homeland of their youth.

Yes, I watched the remembrance parade pass the Cenotaph.  Yes, I watched it from eight hundred miles away.  Television brings  Britain to my salle de séjour  in France, as it brings it the millions of expatriates across the world.  What then does Remembrance Day mean to me? 
I remember when I was eight and  Hitler’s bombs dropped around me and on me.  We lived in those early years of  World War II in a small terraced house that had a view of one of the main arterial roads from Kent into London.  I remember in the days before the Blitz, my mother talking to me as she and I sat close to the bedroom window which looked upon the road., ‘What” she said to me “shall we do if the Germans come?”  “They can’t all be bad. They’re all some mother’s sons” she said, as she touched me.   Later they came not in person, but overhead in planes and they dropped their bombs. Thirty terraced houses were destroyed and the view from the shattered window became panoramic.

I remember my brother leaving the next day to join, under age, the RAF, and then serving in  Cyprus and Italy.  He now sleeps and breathes in a home for the mentally sick in Northfleet.
The parade brings silence to myself and my wife.  The remembrance of young lives lost.   There is also a sense of  pride that Britain stood for a time alone against a small minded tyrant who dragooned the young men in Germany against the rest of Europe. 
Throughout Europe and indeed the World at this time on November 11th at the 11th hour, there are still British people yearning for the cause of British Pride.  But these British people are at the very least, ignored, and at worst scorned, by the insular minded politicians and I can add the insular minded civil servants who advise them, those who manage the British Nation.
The feeling of  despair which comes upon me when I sense the lack of understanding by the politicians, of the British Character which brought us through the War and have since upheld what have been called ‘British Values’ throughout the world, brings to my mind the words of the hymn.
When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people,
Not thrones and crowns, but men!

The politicians speak of the needs of Britain.  But Britain does not exist – outside of its citizens, the people.  The people of Britain are spread across the world. These expatriates are ambassadors of the values of British civilisation.  That is their role, their job! These citizens of Britain should be heard.  Their voices should not be silenced, but listened to and respected, by the politicians  in London.
Give us a voice, and we can continue the job!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A British Citizen Abroad is a Citizen Ignored?

The Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform has reported on the 4th November 2011, on the subject of voting.
(Their remit was the reorganisation of the electoral register in the UK, so to get a recognition of the expatriate  included- see below - is an advance. The more extensive representations made by some of  us amongst others are in printed form in the House of Commons Library.  They are indexed in the report to be consulted by MPs.
The Report can be viewed at   - the library list is on
page 35 -)

There are two references to overseas voters in the report. The first mentions the inadequacy of the postal vote.  A very welcome observation! The second is copied below.

item. 99. The Committee also received written evidence from a number of expatriates calling for the Government to abolish the current 15 year limit on voting in General Elections when living overseas. Mark Harper responded that it was something that Government is considering at the moment, but we have not reached a decision.

The expatriate desire to be recognised is noted.  This is a good thing and a tiny step forward.  And note the word 'abolish'. But it is  a very thin chink in the door. The door is not locked but hardly ajar.
If you are a British expatriate then you are affected by the treaties between the country where you live and the UK signed in your name.
If you are concerned about the way Britain performs on the world stage.
If you receive your income from the UK, have family in the UK, or may one day return to the UK.  Then  you should express your feelings.

YOU CAN make a difference.  You can push at the door!  Get out your fingers and Write. One sentence (and a bit) is enough! You can extend if you wish.

1.    To the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform,
Mark Harper, Cabinet Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA .

Dear Mr Harper….  I am a British citizen and I want to have a say for life in how my country manages itself  in the world and in all matters that affect me and my family.
I want the vote for life. 

2.   TO YOUR MP  (to find your MP click on -    )
Dear… *****.  I am a British citizen and your constituent!  I want to have a say for life in how my country manages itself  in the world and in all matters that affect me and my family.  Please act in my interest now and when a vote comes before Parliament.  I want the vote for life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Now Tunisians Vote

If you will, READ this item from the Guardian
I quote directly from the Guardian for Thursday October 20th 2011 (Lizzie Davies)

Tunisians abroad vote 'with hands trembling and tears flowing' At around 10pm Tunisian time - 8am in Canberra, Australia - Najia Oun made history. Walking into a polling booth and dropping a little piece of paper into a transparent ballot box, she became the first person to vote in her country's first ever free elections.
 Read more.....  (click)
Of all places in Canberra!  Canberra! The capital of Australia of all places where one million three hundred thousand British Citizen live and where very few of these British Citizens have the right to vote as British Citizens. The British Government denies this right of natural justice to its Citizens amongst the Nations.  The Comity of Fairness and Decency amongst the Nations is shamed by this outrageous, dictatorial attitude. Shame!
Britain is a Nation whose politicians walk on the World Stage pronouncing that democracy is to be brought to Libya, Egypt and indeed Tunisia, and all other 'errant' nation States and yet have the gall to deny it to their fellow citizens.   
Amongst these Citizens in Australia are 252,000 British Pensioners whose State Retirement Pensions are frozen by the British Government - That is to say- the Old Age Pension for which, through National Insurance Contributions throughout their working lives they thought they had paid.  Many of these pensioners left Britain to join their grown up families and grandchildren.  Is this such a crime, that they should be cast aside by the successive governments of a country for whom so many of them gave so much in conflicts and wars for the cause of freedom, democracy, and their country?
Will all Britons, young and old, rich or poor, Stand Up, Speak Out and add your names to these petitions?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Expatriates Frozen.

 Frozen in Canada.   A Story of Our British Country Folk.     How you can help.

Many years ago I stood near the bridge which separates the USA from Canada and I admired the magnificence of the Niagara  Falls.  No doubt today there are British pensioners  living on both sides of that Bridge, but they would be foolish indeed to live in Canada, because their State Retirement pension would be frozen at the level at which they emigrated.  But, perhaps one such elderly couple is there because their daughter had moved there years before. She and her family have a large Canadian house and she feels more able than her brother still living in Woking, England, to care for her parents.
Their son and his family in England, have a small modern house scarcely 18 feet wide on a Wimpey estate and with their own children to care for, there is not the space for his parents.   The parents are concerned for his welfare and the education of  their grandchildren and all the social welfare system of the UK.

So!   What has this story to do with you?  Two elements - firstly  the  situation of  the representation to Parliament of the elderly couple who will have powerful links for the rest of their lives with the social systems of Britain, and secondly the gross unfairness of their frozen pensions just because they need to live in Canada, rather than the USA, or stayed in Britain.

In both matters they are  unfairly treated by the Government of their homeland.  After 15 years they have no representation in England,  although they remain deeply concerned about the welfare of their son and his family, and they remain dependent for their State pensions on Britain, and the husband's police pension and its taxation, for he served in the police force in Guildford.
So in 2011 these grandparents are concerned - you bet! of course they are!
So they add their names to two petitions.  One on their frozen vote and the other on their frozen pension.  If they had the vote they may influence the pension!

They are British Citizens.  In spite of all the knocks which their own British Government direct at them, they remain proud to be British.  They come from families of humble origins*, but with guts and courage have survived the vicissitudes of the past 80 years and their children have tried in spirit to follow in their footsteps. 
*their parents supported Labour!

Australia.   I read of a retired engineer there aged 81, whose Old Age Pension is only £18 a week, because it is frozen.  Those expatriates who live in Australia have signed in their hundreds both of the petitions. This week the number of British Pensioners outside the EU (particularly in Australia) who have signed the petition on the frozen vote exceeds those pensioners in Europe who have signed the same petition. 

So what does all this mean to you?     In the cause of British solidarity, just as the Australians (one hopes that the Canadians will follow suit) have voted to thaw both the frozen vote and the frozen pensions, so all Britons everywhere should support both causes. 
Please sign up on both petitions.   And copy this on to other British pensioners, expatriates and indeed those remaining in our homeland.

Other Information You may wish to write to a British MP - You can find a list and thus their email addresses via the following link
It is believed that the LibDems are against extending the 15 year vote, but are for unfreezing pensions. They are a major influence in the Coalition Government.
The Conservatives seem to be for unfreezing the vote but possibly against unfreezing the pensions.  There is no indication of Labour leanings, but they can surely be influenced?  Leaders are - LibDems - Nick Clegg;  Labour - Ed Miliband; Conservatives - David Cameron.

Brian Cave - organiser

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Island syndrome of Iain Duncan Smith.

There is a sad debate in Britain.
Frankly - you can skip the following  links  and begin at the >>>*  unless you have a mind to explore the matter deeply.
It all begins with…..
but it continues with a much more thorough examination in
In Brief:-
It is all to do with whether EU nationals can immigrate into the UK and immediately claim social benefits at the expense of the UK.  Well they can’t.   EU nationals have to  be an ‘habitual resident’ to claim any benefits –  What is an ‘habitual resident’ is the deciding point!  Essentially it is one who has contributed to the British Society.
Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) said: "The EU settlement is supposed to protect the right of member states to make their own social security arrangements. But we are now seeing a rising tide of judgements from the European institutions using other legal avenues to erode away these rights, and we should be gravely concerned."
>>>* … IDS added: "As if this week's decision was not bad enough, we are also fighting increasing demands for the UK to pay benefits to those who have long since moved abroad, and who may never have made more than a token contribution to UK society."
There is a sad suppurating syndrome exposed in these misleading words, rampant in Britain.  It generates antipathy to those who have emigrated.   I would wish IDS to meet some of our British expatriate friends. All retired to France to explore new horizons.  They are all dependent on the UK Social Security system for their State Pensions.  France asks the UK to pay for their health care.  They are neither scroungers on France nor the UK.  But being long term contributors to the British Social Security system they deserve the support and recognition of THEIR  Government, which is the British Government.  If they deserve certain benefits as they grow older then they also should receive them now they live in Europe.
There is the chap who was grievously wounded at the age of ten, but with extraordinary courage developed a career in the construction trade.
There is the  ex-officer  of the army who served the UK throughout the world.
There is the fireman who had a career in service in the UK.
There is the schoolteacher who came to live near her daughter after retirement. She has an extremely small income. Now she is in her 80’s and because she emigrated before 1998 she does not receive the £300 Winter Fuel Payment (WFP)
There is the woman with a career as a district nurse in Norfolk.
There is the career policeman. He, because he came to France before obtaining the WFP in England also looses out on the WFP.

IDS! I ask of you .. Do these people, stalwarts of England, who promulgate the British culture in Europe not deserve the support of the British Government?
The antipathy in Britain towards those who have emigrated to Europe is a festering fungus which eats at the sensibilities of the resident British public.  Politicians who in any way nurture this fungus should be ashamed. Forgive them- Do they know what they are doing?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Unfair Financial Burden for retired Britons in France

Other 'posts' on this blog deal with the substance of this.
Consider an elderly couple who retired to France before 1998. We will call them Mr and Mrs. Briton.  He is now over 80  and was a teacher.

1. His teacher's pension is (in euros) 24,000 euros, which is entirely taxed in Britain. This tax is 2627 euros (equivalent of £2285.5)This sum would be zero if this income (as a sole income) were taxed in France. see note a/.

2. Because they retired to France before the institution of the Winter Fuel Payment they do not receive it.  This amounts to £300 at present for the over 80s = 344 euros

3. They need to find 1500 euros minimum for top-up health insurance. EU law decreees that the UK is the Competent State to carry the costs of their health care. But it does not happen.

How much do they lose out taking on board EU law?

The total they appear miss out on and/or have to find is 2627+344+1500 = 4471 euros. But note later- we need to take in their other pension - The State Retirement Pension, which is their only other income. Although taxable in France it is too little to attract more tax.

If EU law on health costs as it appears to be written was observed  they would have no health costs. see note b/.

IF all their income were taxed in France then one has to include their joint State retirement pension (11640 euros) in the calculations of taxable income in France. The French Tax bill would be  1812 euros.  This is 815 euros less than their existing UK tax bill.  The amount they lose out on then has to be recalculated as   815+344+1500 = 2659 euros

So, if all were really fair for this elderly British couple they would have an extra 2659 euros a year to enjoy life.

When they retired the exchange rate between £ and France was very favourable and these financial matters were not particularly important. Since then the £ has collapsed and they are watching the centimes.

Notes .. a. link to posting  .  'Taxation- in-France-& -UK'  ........................
          b. see EU Regulation 883/2004 Article 24. Link 'Health Costs Legal Position'

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Mr David Burrage the legal advisor and co-founder of the Spanish Expatriates Association informs me that it is his opinion that all elderly Britons  in Europe should receive this benefit (with provisos as described below).

I extract the following from his information.  Some important elements are highlighted . 
 Put simply we take the view that where the UK is and has remained the Competent State for the award of social security benefits. That is;

(a) Where you have not activated social security rights through some economic activity in another relevant State  and where;

(b) You have a social security linking with the UK through;

(i) Past residence,
(ii) Past social security contributions,
(iii) Previous NI credits or,
(iv) Where you are in receipt of some other social security benefit, including your State ‘old age‘ pension and

(c) You have attained the age of 60 years in the qualifying year 2011/2012 providing you were born before 5 January 1951.

Then you are entitled to make a first claim, even though you may be resident outside the UK and elsewhere within the EEA or Switzerland.

Send the completed form to DWP, PO Box 10142, Annesley, Nottingham NG15 5WY. You should also send your original birth certificate.
Always keep copies and send any correspondence by certificated mail.

We suspect that the DWP will currently be in denial of the most recent case law of the ECJ and will refuse your claim on the erroneous basis that you were not ordinarily resident in GB at the date of your claim. Nevertheless, if you are to complain the matter, then you can do so following any refusal of your claim.

We have briefly addressed this matter to the Commission in the light of their recent press release  and await their response. 
*****************   End of Extract

Friday, August 26, 2011

Old Age Pensioners leave Britain!

The Emigration of Old Age Pensioners.

August 2011
The latest figures on the geographical distribution of British State pensioners have been published – for February 2011.
It is extraordinary that the total number of State pensioners between November 2010 and February  2011 fell by 15640. This number will be the difference between the number who died in excess of the new generation of  pensioners during that time.   But this figure is at first sight perplexing when we learn that the total number of pensioners resident in Britain fell by 17890!  There is  2250 missing!
The explanation is that the 2250 emigrated.
If we go back to a comparison of the full year between February 2010 and February 2011, then we find that the number of pensioners living abroad increased by 18,240.  The total global increase was 86,040.  It would seem that about 1 in 5 pensioners are emigrating!  The actual  figure of those who emigrated during this year is actually higher than 18240 because one must add on the number of pensioners who replace those who have died abroad. 
Between February 2010 and February 2011 the number of British State Retirement  Pensioners (OAPs) increased by 86,040 from 12,487,070  to 12,573,110.
The number living in the UK increased by 67800 from 11,323,590 to 11,391,390.
That is to say 9.3% of all State pensioners live abroad. 
Click on the graph to enlarge it - To return click the < at top left of the screen.
In spite of the recession and a decrease in the rate of emigration - the pensioners are still leaving!
It is interesting reading.
What is wrong with a country when so many pensioners want to leave it?  Is it the same reason why so few pensioners abroad are concerned about voting? 
Should not all UK Governments stand back and ask 'What have we done wrong?'

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To all British expatriates everywhere!

To the British expatriate anywhere in the World.
Why you should  have ‘Representation’ and thereby the Vote at Westminster!
First - If you live within the EU - It matters most to you.
The average expatriate Briton in Europe does not understand that their ability to live in Europe depends on the UK Government. Especially is this so for all the ones who are retired -54000 in France [about 430,000 in the EU].  But all, young and old*, can only have the right to live here if the European Union holds together.  It is very necessary indeed that the UK Government acknowledges its responsibility towards the Britons in Europe.  It is just as necessary that  the Briton in Europe ensures that the UK Government exercises its responsibility in their interest.  This can only be achieved if they have representation in Parliament. This is democracy.  This message is quite vital for the political health of the EU enterprise.
If European Union were to collapse, or the UK withdraw from the EU as so many in the UK would foolishly wish, then many of us would be in an uncertain condition.

*e.g. health cost support for pensioners could collapse if the EU fails.
 For every expatriate.
Representation means having an MP who cares for you and who speaks for you in Parliament and can intervene for you (i.e. express your concerns) with the bureaucrats in Whitehall or elsewhere.
1. The pride of British Solidarity.   This is not the most obvious reason.  But it is the most fundamental.   If you are not proud of being British then you should ask yourself whether you should  change your citizenship.  Are you not proud of the once existing British standards of  fair play, and honesty, for which the British culture used to be so respected across the globe.
Also, in reverse, one asks the British Parliamentarians – ‘Are you not proud of the work of British expatriates throughout the world? Are they not citizens whose work and spirit should be respected?’
All expatriates were shocked by the decline of public order in Britain which we witnessed in the summer of 2011. This decline we have witnessed long before we became resident abroad and if we could, no doubt many of us would give some voice to its correction.
We all have an interest in uniting to maintain a standing of honour in British culture.

2. The
UK Government represents the expatriate – even if the expatriate is unaware of it.
  It represents us in treaties and relationships with our host countries   But- the UK bureaucracy is largely unaware of our needs. It has no means of listening to us! It has no ears!
These needs range from matters of local social support - to government taxation and conflicts or confusion between UK and host country regulations - e.g. employment regulations for professionals.  Without some means of feedback from expatriates the Whitehall machine can and does just plough on without understanding of the consequences for the individual. Its attitude therefore evolves to protecting the perceived Government's position and not protecting the British expatriates' position. The British Citizen abroad is a citizen ignored.

Pensions – Those of teachers, Fire Service (and a lot more) are assumed to be ‘government’ pensions in France but ‘non-government pensions’ in Greece.  NHS pensions are  ‘non-government’ pensions in France but ‘government’ pensions in Germany.  These arbitrary decisions affect the taxation costs of  thousands to the cost of thousands of £s. 
The State retirement pension is frozen for many  expatriates in many countries but not all.  Thus if you live in San Marino it is frozen, but not so in Florence.  It is frozen in Monaco, but not in Nice. It is frozen in Niagara Falls (Canada)  but not in Niagara Falls (USA).
Health – The UK makes agreements with the EU and its constituent countries (where 1.5 million British citizens live) on health payments for pensioners but the expatriate pensioners have no voice on such agreements in their name.
Border Controls.  The UK makes whatever changes it chooses, without any ear as to how this may affect the expatriate.
Banking and Finance.  Regulations which affect how and where the expatriate can change or use financial systems within the UK never take cognisance of the impact on the expatriate.
Interests in the UK.- Large numbers of expatriates have financial interests, and many property interests in the UK.  It is plainly obvious that they have an interest in the management of the country!
 The Government could introduce old-age benefits limited to 'residents' . This is the case already with the ridiculous Winter Fuel Payment.  If it wasn't for actions by some people it would not be paid to any expatriate.  We have to thank the EU for ensuring a partial fix.  But there are some very elderly expatriates who well have need for this extra money [The WFP is a payment which by reducing the public purse, reduces the scale of the State Retirement pension].  The Whitehall bureaucrat is unaware that there are expatriates in financial difficulties through no fault of their own and which is exacerbated by the lack of concern by the British Government.

3.  Expatriates in difficulty.   Residents in the
UK can visit or write to their MP if some particular issue is important to them.  Expatriates may well have issues with a UK bank, the UK tax office, local authority,  payment of pensions or social care payments or a problem relating to a near relative – perhaps a child at a school in the UK or a relative in nursing care.  You may yourself on a visit to the UK run into some difficulty.
It is the law that you cannot contact an Ombudsman  in relation to a Government body or the NHS except through a Member of Parliament.
If you have no MP then it is impossible to do this!

4. Finally  The principle of Democracy - that constant vigilance supports freedom. 
Does not the concept of ‘citizenship’  mean a binding relationship between the governing body and the people?*- Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says 'nationality is the legal bond between a person and a State'. This is included in Harry Shindler's application to the ECHR on this subject.  .... see note below  
We may be in title ‘subjects of the Queen’  but times have changed and I fear we have moved into a form of dictatorship of Government which  has chosen to prevent any voice of  millions of its citizens being heard.  They do not speak because they know that no one is listening.
 Many British expatriates feel ALIENATED from the governance of their mother country because of the indifferent attitude of the British Government. To establish a permanent vote would be a first step to redressing this alienation.
If the expatriate does not have a democratic voice, the Government is free to take any action which it distantly believes to be in its interest, that is not necessarily in the interest of the expatriate citizen.
It is in your interest to support the democratic ideal. (click) 

* Harry Shindler [90 years old -resident in Italy since 1982, holder of the Italy Star (World War II, Anzio beach-head), president of the association of British expatriates in Italy. ]
Harry has applied to the European Court of Human Rights against the UK's refusal to grant him representation at Westminster. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sickness Benefit ruling July 2011

The information below has been received from David Burrage (Legal advisor and co-founder of  the Spanish Association of British Expatriates).
To read more you need to sign up to their site.

Extracts are copied below - please read.   The consequence of this ECJ ruling is that - as long as the UK is the 'competent State for your social security' then if perchance you fulfil the circumstances to be awarded a sickness benefit in the UK if you lived there, then you should receive it anywhere in the EU - even if those circumstances have come upon you recently.  Thus if your spouse becomes incapacitated and would have an Attendance Allowance were you to reside in the UK, then your spouse is entitled to receive it in France, Spain etc.  If your net income is below £100 per week then if you are in the position of being a carer, you may well claim a Carer's Allowance.
 These are the first two paragraphs of this communication
The European Court of justice (ECJ), in Lucy Stewart, case C-503/09, has finally delivered an 18 page land mark ruling with regard to the UK’s imposition of their presence in, or ‘past’ presence in the UK of 26 weeks in the previous 52 weeks test (PPT), at the date of first claim to certain types of sickness related benefits, which also embraces the benefits of disability living allowance ‘care’ component, attendance allowance and carers allowance.

The effect of this ruling, delivered on 21st July 2011, is that, such a past presence test can only be imposed in the absence of some other proper linking to the UK’s social security system, including past contributions, substantial previous periods of residence in the UK, receipt of some other benefit, such as the benefit awarded to the appellant in the main proceedings, when as a result a person is in receipt of N.I.contribution credits, or where they have an established linking through the receipt of a State ‘old age’ pension. Such linking can also be established by proxy, where a family member is dependent on another where that other person has an established linking, as was the situation in the above proceedings This test cannot be applied in replacement of such a linking, but only in substation in the absence thereof.  
 another extract ---------------------------
The appellant in the main proceedings is a Down’s syndrome victim (Lucy Stewart), she has never been able to work and is hardly likely ever to be able to work. Upon their retirement and when they were in receipt of their UK State ‘old age’ pensions her parents moved to Spain where they currently reside. When the appellant attained the age of 16 years her mother applied for youth incapacity benefit on her daughter’s behalf. The DWP disallowed the application on the basis that the appellant did not meet their 26/52 week past presence test at the date of her claim. In the meantime the appellant had been entitled to and awarded disability living allowance (DLA), retrospectively, to the date of its inception of June 1992.

For completeness, youth incapacity benefit is awarded to persons between the age of 16 years and 25 years, where a person is physically or mentally handicapped and thereby unable to work. It is awarded for a maximum period of 354 days and where the circumstances warrant, it is then replaced by normal incapacity benefit (I.B.).These benefits are classed as disability/sickness benefits for the purposes of Community law and as such are exportable to elsewhere within the EEA or Switzerland. Further, where a person is in receipt of such a benefit they will also be entitled to be credited with N.I. contributions.