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Brexit may Cause Problems with UK Expat Pensions
27 April 2016 @ 18:48

Brexit may cause problems with Expat Pensions

by Sandy Paterson

Brexit may cause problems with Expat Pensions

Altmann says leaving EU would jeopardise expat pensions

With BREXIT filling the news and wild speculation being the norm on both sides of the debate we thought a look at the recent comments by Ros Altman may bear some scrutiny.

First of all we should say that Altman is a known supporter of staying in the EU and therefore her comments may need to be taken with a fairly large pinch of salt.

Altman has stated that there would be ‘no requirement under EU law’ for Expat's pension rights to be continued if BREXIT came to pass. ‘There is a great deal of uncertainty about how it would work,’ she said. Which to our jaded Financial Adviser minds means that they have not figured out what, if anything to do about it if a leave vote resulted on June 23rd.

Add to this the EU right to live, freedom of labour, access to healthcare and public services which we UK Expats living in, for example Spain have come to expect as normal. Would this still continue out of the EU, or are they only guaranteed as a result of being in the EU.

The Department of Work & Pensions is under some pressure to uprate the ‘frozen’ pensions of UK expats. But as usual no real response has been made to this other than to state that they have no idea how much this would cost.

There are an estimated 2 million UK expats of which some 1.2 million are pensioners. Add to this that only 1% (20000) of these Expats have bothered to register to vote on 23rd June (they can only vote if they have been outside the UK for less than 15 years which rules out some people) and you can readily see the apathy of the Expat community.

This apathy holds hidden dangers for the UK state pension when taken abroad. The state pension they receive is very different depending on which country they live in. Almost 550,000 of those pensioners have had their pensions 'frozen' from when they left the UK due to not being entitled to annual increases in the state pension (uprating), which is available if your are in the UK.

So whatever your views on the subject do not be fooled into the "it won't make any difference to me" ​and bury your head in the sand as is so easy to do when living the life of an Expat. Find out how you can vote and get to grips with the facts (not easy).

You can find out more about your eligibility to vote here:

Like 1


wigmore said:
30 April 2016 @ 08:33

I have worked in spain and I had originally dual nationality when I married a spaniar (now not law) I now have an NIE. I have a small spanish pension, so if England leave the EU would I still get medical care?

grahaminspain said:
30 April 2016 @ 08:44

Vote out...We will survive outside the corrupt EU..this is the LAST CHANCE to save the UK unless its already too late. I predict just before the vote there will be more figures for immigrants in Europe that will not make good reading and heaven forbid..a terrorist attack on the uk just before the will that make a difference. Scaremongering by the opposition. We will survive outside the EU and we WILL still be able to live here in Spain quite happily. NO PAIN NO GAIN. Unless l have not made myself clear..I VOTE OUT

grapow said:
30 April 2016 @ 09:01

For clarity in the minds of anyone who knows me, the comments immediately above are NOT associated with this Graham (Graham Powell). In fact , they couldnt possibly be further from my thoughts. For all the alleged scaremongerung by the remain camp, the kind of "head in the sand" comments above terrify me.
Whilst of course, nobody knows how we will be affected by a Brexit, I have taken two different pieces of kegal advice from Spanish lawyers, both of whom feel that "the consequences will be bad " for us expats in Spain.
Get your heads out of the sand, register to vote,then vote remain!

grapow said:
30 April 2016 @ 09:20

For clarity in the minds of anyone who knows me, the comments immediately above are NOT associated with this Graham (Graham Powell). In fact , they couldnt possibly be further from my thoughts. For all the alleged scaremongering by the remain camp, the kind of "head in the sand" comments above terrify me.
Whilst of course, nobody knows how we will be affected by a Brexit, I have taken two different pieces of kegal advice from Spanish lawyers, both of whom feel that "the consequences will be bad " for us expats in Spain.
Get your heads out of the sand, register to vote,then vote remain!

Poedoe said:
30 April 2016 @ 10:18

So disappointing that British Pensioners who have made a new life in Spain could be victimised because of the EU problem and pension. The millions that the UK have paid through the EU to give the EU countries a better way of life with wonderful highway-Road infrastructure, which is far better than the UK enjoys. Many will not stay in Spain. Those who have worked hard to save to be able to retire to Spain will think again. Sadly Spain will suffer because the revenue these pensioners bring in to Spain will no longer be available.

MarkMunns said:
30 April 2016 @ 11:13

grapow wrote: "the kind of "head in the sand" comments above terrify me."

Your woolly thought process is infinitely more frightening. All I hear is this self-centered decision process. e.g. what about my travel, my money, my business wrapped up in a pretense of concern about 'our' future.

personally, Brexit might make my future worse in the near time but, like every other country that has decided to not join or withdraw its application to join the EU, this has been temporary and they are flourishing now in comparison to the 'prisoner' nations of the EU.

Which renders 'willfully blind' anyone who claims that "nobody knows how we will be affected by a Brexit". We do know. We know how we survived before and we have data on how similar countries who haven't joined are benefiting from not applying (3rd world hell-holes excepted).

So that makes the question a lot easier. Whatever unknown exists, will be greater if under an undemocratic, unelected, bunch of freeloaders who have proven that they cannot be trusted. Whist that applies to UK politicians just as much as the clowns in Brussels, the difference is that effecting change amongst the criminals in Brussels (whose families won't be living, working, going to school and shopping in the UK) will be nigh impossible if we don't like it compared to being outside the EU.

It is is you who needs to take your head out (and it ain't in sand).
Ask yourself how dumb does one have to be to think that all the promises and claims that the EU currently claim to be offering in future won't we reversed in a heartbeat once they have achieved their goal of complete control? It happens every time by every set of power-crazy politicians throughout history. Why do we repeatedly fall for it ??

Would you cede control of...

Your house
Who can live in it
How many can live in it
Your finances and how it MUST be spent to support the new residents
Your children's future a bunch of people you don't know and over whom you will have little or no control over?

All in the hope that they will keep to some promises to not abuse that power. And for what? Some fear-mongering and unrealistic claim that you will only be able to trade with the resident at No. 24 and travel there tariff and visa free if you agree to give up complete control?

If you wouldn't do that with your family home and its finances , then why would you agree to do it with your country and subject your kids' future to such an unknown and unknowable power? structure.

The short-sighted and reckless gamble is not Brexit!

Heledaw said:
30 April 2016 @ 11:50

If pensioners are adversely affected by Brexit (especially if the reciprocal agreement on healthcare is scrapped), they'll be caught between a rock and a hard place. I doubt that many could afford to return to the UK given the fact that house prices over there have soared whilst those in Spain have plummeted.

I also wonder whether Spain could introduce more punitive tax laws for non-EU members given they will no longer have to treat us all equally.

Staying in is probably better for expats but I'm not convinced it's right for the UK.

DJF42 said:
30 April 2016 @ 16:04

I have to agree with you Mark Munns, there is a great deal of scaremongering from both sides of the debate.
There are lots of people who are, let us say, are in their mature years on this site who would think twice about researching the internet on subjects they wish to know about. And yet, when it comes to this EU vote there is so much ignorance about. Look up YouGov.UK and you will find where you can draw your state pension and no, that will not change if we vote out. Can you imagine a company such as British Airways or Diageo and others very similar to them, telling their pensioners that if you live in Spain and we vote out you will not get your pension. Parliament would be all over them like a swarm of flies quoting all sorts of regulations and human rights etc. The state Pension will not cease to be paid nor will any other pension.
As regards health care, we just go back to the way it was before 1973 and that cannot happen immediately, you know how grindingly slow the whole EU machine moves.
Here is something else to think about, the EEC was sold as a way of trading with the rest of Europe without penalties and the UK electorate bought it,(not me BTW), then it became the EU with the excuse that it will stop, for ever, countries on the continent fighting each other ever again and the chances of a dictator such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. Well, I don't they have succeeded, the EU zone is still ruled by dictators, except they now call them "commissioners" . These are a bunch of unelected people in the "old boy" network who dictate every that happens in the EU. It is said that the European parliament has to ratify all that the commissioners dictate, just let them try to vote against. They are told to go back and rethink it through, the same as Ireland voting out and then told to hold another vote which the dictators, sorry commissioners, could accept, I ask you, is that democracy. There is also the question of the "books". they have not been passed or approved by the auditors for the past 12 or more years, yet they carry on regardless and ignore them, (not dictators?).
A company would be told to stop trading and closed down by the banks and others and put into receivership.

So, let us get some salient facts before we go off half cock on sites such as these, then get back some backbone rekindle the bull dog spirit which has been leached out of the majority by the welfare state and the "my rights" and "entitlement" attitudes that are prevalent these days.
The worst that can happen is that we go back to how we were in the 1970's, but we would have the added advantage of deciding on our own destiny.
Please don't insult my intelligence by mentioning the trade agreements and how they would stop us buying and selling with them, they would not survive without our trade, are Airbus planes going to fly without wings? The wings are made in the UK!!
I could give many other examples, I have no doubt you can think of them if you are honest with yourselves.
The main reason why there is so much talk about how bad it will be for us is simply, that the "powers that be" would be very badly off without the gravy train they are on at present.

DJF42 said:
30 April 2016 @ 16:08

BTW in case I haven't made my message clear, I'm OUT.

grahaminspain said:
30 April 2016 @ 16:36

I dont care what grapow thinks. I tend to agree with Mark munns said. I personally have NOTHING to gain by a BREXIT if we loose our healthcare etc. If you want to think my head is in the sand then so be it BUT I am a taxpayer etc etc etc and l have right to an opinion as well. Forget me me me, my vote out is to try to save what is left of the once Great Britain...l just hope its not too late

DJF42 said:
30 April 2016 @ 17:10

I wanted to add something more having re-read some of the comments previous to mine.
Someone has spoken to two Spanish lawyers, really! After all the corruption scandals with purchasing of properties, who could ever trust a Spanish lawyer. And besides, what can they know about what would happen if we exit.
There is a provision in the Treaty of Lisbon December 2009, TUE Article 50, which lays out what is to happen when a country requests to leave, the time allowed is two years unless more time is negotiated, which has to be ratified by all remaining members. Not likely.
Why hasn't anything been said about this article, publicised for all to read so we can make an informed decision. The "stayers" do not want us to know!
All it takes is another internet search.
BTW Well said grahaminspain.

grapow said:
30 April 2016 @ 18:20

Well, not surprisingly, this has stirred up something of a hornets nest. As i understand it, UK state pensions for non EEC areas like Oz and NZ are frozen and have zero inflation or index linking for the future. For me the main issue surrounds healthcare. We are 100% legitimate here subscribing to all Spanish taxes and hence we have no call on the NHS. I suspect a large proportion of the "exit fanatics" are playing both sides here and still get UK NHS benefit.
I concede our support for remain is entirely based on what is best for us, having worked very hard all our lives to retire early to Spain we do not want to see these plans wrecked.
There is no way we would ever return to Britain, one other option we will consider is becoming Spanish citizens, I believe this is an option to preserve what we have and enjoy.

nicechap said:
30 April 2016 @ 18:36

I am sorry grahaminspain there is no Great Britain any more that went years ago,I am 72 and live in Spain I am worried about this as all who live here should be, we all know of the trouble we have had here with the Spainish authorities how do think we will be treated if we are not part of the EU, we would be screwed, I think our health care would go first thats for sure and goodness knows what else. I wish that every body would do there home work on this and stop listening to all thoso peopel in the media most of them have there own agender they dont give a sod if we are in or out its what they can get out of it that matters. peopel shout about the 250 mil that the UK pays every week but no one shouts about the 100m the that the EU gives the UK every week. The peopel of the UK do not know what the EU does for the UK beause they are not told, if there is alarge project her in Spain there is a signe that sayes how much of that project is funded by the EU how many signes likes this are seen in the UK a friend of mine lives in the MIdlands he tells me they dont have them there why not maybe if the goverment was to tell peopel what the EU gives to the UK they might not be so anti EU, so please do your home work then you can make a decision that is yours not some one elses by the way the UK have their Border Controls I have to show my passport when I go there I dont do that when I come back, at the end of the day what ever happens it will make very littel differance to the man in the streets of the UK but it will make a difference to the expats that have property or live in the EU

grapow said:
30 April 2016 @ 18:54

Great words spoken (well written!) and with passion and feeling Nicechap. Probably like us you contribute to the fund in Spain and therefore have most to lose.
I must say the emotion over the "Great" in Britain is about 50 years out of date, its gone!
Also, since Norway and Switzerland are often held up as a good example of successfully independent nations, as anyone visited there lately? In Norway a small beer costs the equivalent of about 10€

grahaminspain said:
30 April 2016 @ 22:11

For the record..l am NOT playing both sides here. I am entitled to my vote and unless anyone can convince me l will never...repeat never vote to show any support to unelected fanatics from Brussels. Do what you all want, say what you want but l am for OUT.

Poppyseed said:
30 April 2016 @ 22:36

Whether pensions are frozen or not depends on agreements made with individual countries. For example UK pensions are not frozen in the USA so to say if we leave the EU pensions will be frozen is not a known fact. Unfortunately no-one can say categorically what will happen to pensions and many other things if we leave and is asking people to take a gamble. Personally I'm voting for Brexit as that is what I think is best for the UK and if that does happen I will have to live with any personal consequences as I have had to live with the consequences and huge financial loss of getting involved in the Spanish property market in the first place.

Poppyseed said:
30 April 2016 @ 22:38

Should also add that whatever Altman says isn't worth anything. The once respected champion of pensioners sold her soul and principles for a place in the House of Lords and became a government mouthpiece, shameless woman.

Spanishsteve said:
01 May 2016 @ 16:38

Poppyseed, your last comment re Ros Altman. was spot on. I believe she was CEO of AgeUK, championing pensioners rights etc.
since she went into the House of Lords she has done a complete u turn.
Google WASPI, the women born in the 1950's who due to succesive governments will not get their state pension until they are 66 years old, due to changing the. State pension age twice but more importantly not letting most of them know until fairly recently thereby not allowing them time to prepare. These women will have lost out on £36k of pension payments.

MikeandHelen said:
01 May 2016 @ 23:31

I was a fan of Ros Altman when she was at Saga but unfortunately now she is a Conservative Peer and 'advisor' to Cameron.

Where and how UK pensions are paid are a matter of UK Government Policy and little to do with the EU. So we have to aske ourselves was this statement made at the request of the Prime Minister but it was almost certainly checked with him before it was made.

So I would say it is scare mongering and these agreements are not only with EU countries.

karibu said:
02 May 2016 @ 10:43

Cor.......Well I think the BLUNT truth is that no one really knows what will happen. If we stay, for sure there will be some change, the UK is not the only state agitating for change. If we go, who knows? It will ALL be up for renegotiation. One would hope that the Spanish Government would take account of the MASSIVE contribution that the UK expat community (and tourists) make to the Spanish economy, and the absolute disaster that a mass exodus would have. But, can you rely on any politician in any nation to do what's right and sensible? And do not overlook the attitude I have come across, "If the Brits want out...good riddance....bunch of whingeing...@@@@".

nicechap said:
02 May 2016 @ 12:04

Hi karibu you say you would hope the Spainish Goverment would take account of the massive contribution that we make NO you only have to look at the last ten years to have some idea
of what we could face, peopel loosing there houses excesive bank charges and a hole raft of other stuff that we have had to put up with and thats with the EU behind us, how much more with out the EU, the Spainish Goverment wants our money but they dont want us

moonbeam said:
02 May 2016 @ 19:19

Spanish colleagues and friends are not concerned at all by the possibility of Britain leaving the UE. They feel that tourism will not be affected that much - people always want a good deal in a nearby sunny country, and that a mass exodus is very unlikely as the people who are settled here will pay for private insurance cover and just get down to doing the required paperwork. And only those that cannot afford insurance cover and/or do not meet the requirements of the non-UE Residence Permits will leave, which in effect they feel will be quite a satisfactory cull!

Although the British are the main block of foreign property buyers, they only account for 20 percent of the market when all is said and done.

They also feel that once the British are out of the EU the Spanish government will be able to really start cracking down on all the illegal lets of holiday homes without permits and the due avoidance of tax which should be paid on the lets. New legislation is already coming into effect in different communities regarding lets.

Also because of border controls it will be much easier to control who is spending more than the legal time in Spain as a non-resident and should be paying Spanish tax.

Karibu makes a pertinent point in his last sentence!

grapow said:
03 May 2016 @ 13:39

My wife and I are early retirees and are 100% compliant paying all Spanish taxes etc. We currently benefit from free healthcare due to an agreement within EEC which entitles us as Spanish tax payers. However the rather flippant suggestion made by Moonbeam that we pay for private health insurance is laughable! I am a diabetic and the lowest quote we could get was in excess of 1000€ PER MONTH!
I am not however aware of the "Non-EU Residence Permit" nor how this might provide health protection, could you provide, please any links which might help? My personal email is

moonbeam said:
03 May 2016 @ 16:42

In response to the query about the non-UE Residence Permit - this is just the Residencia that will have to be applied for if Britain leaves the UE. Unfortunately, it only gives permssion for residence to non UE members, who have to meet certain requirements such as proof of income etc. It does not provide Spanish State Healthcare Cover as at present enjoyed by UE nationals under the UE treaties.

According to colleagues the Spanish Government is not enamoured with the UE bilateral treaty with Britain covering the obligation of healthcare for British people here, as it feels that the amount paid by Britain falls well short of the cost of covering such a large amount of elderly people. Recent Government statistics show that the average age of a British resident is far above the average age of any other nationality settled here. The Germans are next in the table, but still below the British average age.

Please note that I have only passed on the feelings of Spanish colleagues and friends to show that there are always two sides to every coin!

grapow said:
03 May 2016 @ 18:57

We already have residencia of course, not that this is likely to gain us any advantage. I do share moonbeam's sentiments on weeding out the huge number of people here on a questionable legal basis, not contributing to the Spanish pot in any form of taxation and spending much more than 6 months here each year.

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