8th March 2009

A British couple from Pas de Calais are threatening legal action against the UK government if certain benefits (e.g. DLA, attendance allowance, carer's allowance) are not restored to expats in France. All this raises the much wider question of all British rights available to expats. The whole thing is an unknown zone, pushed under the carpet by the UK in the hope it will go away. It won't.
I, myself, paid N.I. contributions for over 30 years, but it goes to fund payments for the present population. This is clearly unfair. What you don't need is for someone to deny one's hoped-for security blanket in old age just when you need it - simply because the current economic climate can't afford it. There are hundreds of expats in the former Commonwealth countries who don't receive the annual State pension increase in April, whereas those in Europe or the U.S.(!) do. Additionally, all expats (including me) are denied the extra benefits that are available to UK pensioners, e.g. top-up pension credit, winter fuel allowance etc. - for WFA, you had to have applied whilst still in the UK.
There seems no logic to any of it. UK pensioners who have paid into the system all their working lives, should receive the benefits no matter what.
I say: change the system in a graduated way so that NI contributions go into a guaranteed 'insurance' pot for when an individual reaches retirement age - whatever the future national economical situation might be.

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