Frozen pension policy: British expat’s dream turns into nightmare

Photo courtesy of John Jones via inews UK

Expats in Thailand live a life many envy but behind the sunny façade lies a tale of financial struggle and dashed dreams. Three Britons became victims of a decades-long pension policy debacle, turning their golden years into a fight for survival.

John Jones, a 77 year old British national, once roamed the globe with the vigour of a jet-setter, but now finds himself grounded by a cruel twist of fate: the UK Government’s frozen pension policy. Nestled in the idyllic Thai countryside, his retirement dreams have withered under the weight of stagnant finances.

Suffering from a heart condition, Jones confessed that he was not in the best of health, adding to the financial strain.

“With the cost of living going up, what used to buy you groceries 13 years ago you can’t get half of that now. We have to budget and there’s no savings as such, I mean, it’s impossible.

“It’s a hardship, but I scrape through. I give my wife every penny of my pension and go nowhere and do nothing, I’m just a vegetable. I am not in the best of health.”

Meanwhile, across the Thai landscape, 77 year old Jeffrey Barnes from Offham, Kent, basks in the mango-scented air, yet even his picturesque retirement is tarnished by frozen finances. Despite a comfortable private pension, the injustice of the frozen state pension policy gnaws at his sense of fairness.

As the sun sets on their dreams, 55 year old Linz Gelthorpe and his 61 year old wife, Julie face a similar fate, their move to Thailand marred by unforeseen financial hurdles. Gelthorpe likened the pension debacle to the infamous Post Office scandal.

“It’s disgraceful and disgusting. This is bigger than the party that’s in power… they stick their head in the sand, the same as when they did with the Post Office scandal. They think it will go away.”

The crux of the issue lies in the UK Government’s policy of freezing state pensions for expats in non-European countries like Thailand, denying them the annual increase enjoyed by pensioners back home. With over 480,000 affected globally, the outcry against this policy grows louder, reported iNews UK.

In the face of mounting pressure, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) remains steadfast, citing a longstanding policy that leaves expat pensioners in the cold. But for these pensioners, the battle for financial justice is far from over.

A DWP spokesperson said its priority is ensuring every pensioner receives the financial support to which they are entitled.

“We understand that people move abroad for many reasons and we provide clear information on about how this can impact their finances.

“The Government’s policy on the uprating of the UK State Pension for recipients living overseas is a longstanding one of more than 70 years and we continue to update State Pensions overseas where there is a legal requirement to do so.”

In related news, in a tale of love, resilience, and an unexpected proposal, a British couple from Durham, in the northeast of England, found themselves thrust into the spotlight after a near-fatal motorbike crash during what was supposed to be a dreamy 28-day Thai vacation.

Thailand NewsTourism News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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