Half of the more than one million British pension recipients living abroad are not entitled to yearly cost of living increases by virtue of a lottery style system that has left many retired people in virtual poverty. St. Kitts and Nevis is one of the countries blacklisted by the UK government.
An international group from around the world including John Duffy representing the Caribbean, met with Baroness Benjamin (originally from Trinidad) at the U.K. Houses of Parliament on 2nd November to discuss bringing pressure to bear on the U.K. Government to stop freezing pensions dependent upon in which part of the world the pensioner lives.
What this has meant to the unlucky pensioners is that someone who retired when the basic rate was £67.50 a week in 2000 would still get that, rather than the £115.95 received by everyone else now.
Over a period of four days the group known as the International Consortium of British Pensioners met with 30 members of the House of Commons, two members of the House of Lords and four newspapers.
Amazingly, almost all of the Members of Parliament were unaware that the British Government randomly discriminates against half its pensioners living overseas and the Caribbean is one of the worst examples of the discrimination.
If you live in any of the former British colonies except Barbados and Jamaica you are discriminated against. Even if you live in the British Overseas Territories of Montserrat, Anguilla or the BVI your pension is frozen yet, right next door, in the USVI, your pension is not frozen nor if you live in any of Dutch or French territories.
This means people retiring to Canada, Australia, India, Africa and many parts of the Caribbean lose out on state pension increases, while those living in EU countries, the US, Jamaica, Israel and the Philippines get their full whack.
You do not have to be a British citizen in order to claim a British pension, you or, if you are a widow your husband, has only to have contributed for a minimum of 10 years into the U.K. National Insurance system to earn a pension.
There are 1.2 million British pensioners living overseas and the British Government freezes the pensions of nearly half of them, some of them now reduced to poverty on a few pounds a week.
Many Caribbean citizens moved to the U.K. in the 60s and 70s to work and either have moved back home or would like to return to their place of origin, however, they need to take care that they didn’t originate from the ‘wrong’ island.
What the U.K. Government is doing is contrary to the Commonwealth Charter on discrimination but it never gets discussed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting because the U.K. sets the agenda.
Baroness Benjamin is very active with a cross party group of U.K. MPs and Lords fighting to have this unfair discrimination stopped.
Anyone wishing help or advice with their U.K. pension or any further information can e-mail bcpa@lightwave or call +1 268 725 2840