British Pensions in Australia: The Bad News

My category called Australia’s Bad Things is mostly about Australia’s wildlife and fauna. I started by writing about “bad” things, but by and large, I realised they were not really bad, it was just that some people think of them as bad.

Snakes, sharks and crocodiles, for example, aren’t really bad; they are just part of Australia’s beautiful wildlife. Unfortunately, sometimes they cross paths with us humans with fatal consequences.

As I looked for more wildlife to write about, I soon realised there were far more Australian good things than bad, like koalas, kangaroos, possums and other cuties.

Some things though really are bad, like fire ants, cane toads and feral pigs. These are three of Australia’s worst imported bad things. But there is a fourth kind of Australian bad thing.

Some bad things don’t even live here.

I believe the English FA were the first non-residential Australian bad thing to appear on this blog for changing the time of the FA Cup final this year to 5:15 PM and ruining the event for hundreds and thousands of Australian fans. Three o’clock in the morning is way too late to be watching footy.

Now it’s time to meet the latest and biggest non-residential Australian bad thing.

The British Government.

I didn’t know this until very recently, but British pensions here in Australia are frozen. They are frozen from the date you start collecting your very first payment, which may be when you’re age 65, or perhaps 67.

By frozen, I mean they are not indexed linked, your pension will not go up with inflation, your pension will remain the same payment from the day you get your first one, until the day you pop your clogs.

What does this mean in cold hard cash terms?

A Case study.

In 1974 a retired woman from the UK moved to Sydney. She recently reached the ripe old age of 100 and got a telegram from the Queen. What she really wanted was a fair pension for the last 35 years, what she has been getting is just £6.12 per week. If it had been indexed linked, she would have been on £107.45 a week from April of this year.

Jack WestWhat does Squadron Leader Jack West DSO, DFC, who served in the RAF during WW2, think of it all?

“We have always been proud of Britain for standing up to injustice back in 1939, but cannot understand why as loyal British citizens, now that life has taken us to retire in a Commonwealth country like Australia, that our Mother Country should penalise us and others from the UK from the rights enjoyed by those who chose to live elsewhere overseas. I feel this is a gross injustice which does not live up to Britain’s once proud record of fairness and its standing in the world.”

Yes, even those who fought for Britain in World War II and who chose to kick back and retire here in Australia have also had their pensions frozen.

If, on the other hand, he’d chosen to move to say Spain, the USA, Germany, the Philippines, France, Poland, Denmark, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, or, ooh, any one of another 40 or so countries, then his pension would have been index-linked.

Why won’t the British Government pay up?

Whenever the government announce their pensioners pay increases in the budget, you’ll notice that right at the end of the speech you will hear the words “except those without a bilateral agreement”. The UK government refuses to negotiate any more of these agreements.

That includes us here in Australia and our friends in Canada too.

Innocuous, innocent and almost meaningless sounding words, but the reality is that ‘technicality’ takes 550,000 expat pensioners out of the index linking loop.

The British Government also claim they can’t afford to index everybody; an independent report proves otherwise.

“BPiA commissioned Oxford Economics (OE), a leading economic forecasting consultancy, to perform a study on the subject. The results of the study showed that every single British pensioner living overseas provides a net saving to the UK Treasury just short of £4000 a year, for a current grand total of more than £2.2-billion in real savings annually.

Meanwhile, BPiA also hired a professional polling company to find out how many additional 45-to-64- year-olds in Britain would consider emigrating if pension freezing were abolished. When the results of that poll were applied to OE’s research, a clear picture emerged that abolishing pension freezing is highly likely to increase emigration numbers and thus produce a substantial ‘new money’ net benefit to the government in addition to the £2.2-billion already experienced each year.”

Sounds like the British Government can’t afford not to from those figures, doesn’t it?

How do I know all this?

Jim Tilley and John HowardBecause a couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Jim Tilley (pictured right with former Australian PM John Howard), the Chairman of British Pensions in Australia (BPiA). Last week we had a chat on Skype.

Jim has been fighting this discrimination against Australian British expats’ pensions for many years and he has promised to win that fight, or die trying.

As Jim himself told me, pensioners living here in Australia are suffering a triple whammy.

The current weakness of the pound against the Australian dollar is the first. Five years ago, for example, anyone who was receiving £100 a week pension would have got about $250 AUD for that. Now it would be closer to $150.

Pensioners, more often than not, need more healthcare. Here, in Australia, that’s going to cost more than it would have done back in the UK with the NHS. That’s whammy number two.

With pensions not being indexed, there’s your triple whammy.

How can you help?

  • If you’re still in the UK, complain to your local MP. Kick up a fuss, tell them its blatant discrimination, tell them you want justice for pensioners in Australia.
  • If you are here in Australia, I strongly suggest you join BPiA. It is a non-profit making volunteer organisation dedicated to fighting for indexing of pensions here in Australia for British expats. It’s just $20 per year to join or $30 for a couple.

The money has previously gone towards the barristers and legal teams who represented our interests in the UK and at the ECHR. BPiA, with their Canadian mates, now engage a PR firm to help publicise this issue in the UK as well as towards helping each and every individual pensioner maximise their pension payments here in Australia.

On a personal note, I’m no spring chicken. The Sands of Time are ticking by, and it won’t be long until I would have been collecting my free bus pass from the British Government and a little bit extra during winter to help me out with my heating bills.

But I won’t be doing that, because I live here in Australia. I’m saving the British Government some money.

So give it back! INDEX MY PENSION!!

I’m going to find out more and keep up-to-date, I’m going to:

I hope you do too. Also, visit

The Expat Daily Telegraph is also fighting for us, you can Google ‘Daily Telegraph frozen pensions campaign‘ for updates.

“Fairness is at the heart of everything we do” PM, David Cameron, May 12th 2010

No it isn’t!” BobinOz, 25th of July 2012.

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{ 37 comments… add one }
  • James Driver January 29, 2017, 3:34 pm |

    Members of parliament who over many years have turned their back on this illegal practice but have given billions of sterling to so called third world countries, who just laugh all the way to the bank, Why ? to salve their guilty consciences.
    Just look at the theft by many members of the house of Lords, sign in, get the 300 pounds and of out on the town.
    Sirs , we have to put the money up, to take the government to court because it is blatantly obvious that such practices are illegal.

    • BobinOz January 30, 2017, 6:16 pm |

      I’m not sure if Jim Tilley or any of his team are still monitoring these comments, but it would be good to hear his views on your ‘illegal’ suggestion. If they are breaking the law, then yes, maybe we should take them to court.

      • Andy Robertson-Fox January 30, 2017, 11:47 pm |

        The case, Carson (& Others) versus the UK government went through the UK system up to and including the High (now Supreme) Court was taken to court and rejected.
        It was subsequently subjected to action in the European Court of Human Rights with the fınal appeal heard by the Grand Chamber. The verdict, published in March 2010, was that the pensioner’s submission was lost on the grounds that it was not considered to be discrimination and that the decision whether not to index link was a matter for the UK parliament and not a legal issue. The ruling also prevents any further appeal.
        The sum of money spent on International Aid and the rate of attendance allowance for The Lords, whatever one’s personal vıews, are not relevant to this matter.

        • BobinOz January 31, 2017, 7:06 pm |

          Ah, thanks for clearing that up Andy. Sounds like it doesn’t leave much room for a Plan B either.

          • Jim Tilley January 31, 2017, 9:57 pm |

            A top London QC believes there is a chance to take the pension issue to court, in this can the UN’s International Court of Justice, but we have to persuade the Australian Government to take this action. I am awaiting the QC to next be in Sydney when I am hoping to arrange to discuss strategy with him to get the Australian Government involved. Meanwhile I have achieved some publicity on the ABC which may interest you and your followers.

            • BobinOz February 1, 2017, 11:53 pm |

              Hi Jim

              Been a while, hope you are keeping well.

              Thanks for the further clarification and update, good to see you are still fighting the fight. Let us all hope you win it eventually. Cheers, Bob

  • Jim Tilley August 6, 2012, 8:52 pm |

    Karen I have made contact with friend Tammy in Christchurch.

    Thanks for the intro.


  • George Morley August 6, 2012, 1:38 pm |

    Hello Karen, When you go to the site and scroll down to ;’country’ you should be able to select your country as they are all listed.
    Address Town Postcode etc and then :-Country
    Just select from the list : Afghanistan Albania ——————– United Kingdom ————–United States ———Uruguay Zimbabwe etc I have shortened it to save space.
    Have another go !
    Best of luck, George.

  • Jim Tilley August 6, 2012, 1:09 pm |

    Karen . Either scroll down to the country USA and sue your post code there or use a UK address of one of your friends or family in the UK.
    And thanks for the tip about you friends in NZ I will see if I can get in touch with them.

    Best wishes

    Jim Tilley

  • Karen August 6, 2012, 12:51 pm |

    I would like to sign the petition but when I click on the link it says I have to fill in an address in the UK which I don’t currently have. I’m a British citizen currently living in the US.
    Another suggestion is to get in touch with Mike and Tammy who are UK expats in New Zealand and run, they may be willing to help get interest in the survey as there are lots of members on their website that are from the UK as well that have the same issue.

  • Jim Tilley August 1, 2012, 1:35 pm |

    Good one Johanna . Please make sure your family and friends especially those in the UK are made aware of this blatant UK Government discrimination and get them too to sign the petition Ask them to spread the message too.

    And if you are in Australia please join us to help with the campaign. An application form is available at
    or phone me on 1300 308 353, local call charge applies in Australia.

  • JohannaLala August 1, 2012, 8:23 am |

    Great campaign and urgent cause, Bob….I’m IN !!!


  • George Morley July 31, 2012, 11:39 pm |

    Another way to spread the word is for those who belong to an Association as I do being ex-RAF is to get the members to support you and sign the petition. Perhaps martin h belongs to a Police Assn or old School or College group, I don’t know but spreading the word is essential, as Jim has said, if we are to get the support we need which is why it is so encouraging to have Bob raise this issue.

    • BobinOz August 1, 2012, 8:07 pm |

      That’s a good idea George, anyone who belongs to any such large group should send out a bulk email, that would help us bump the numbers up.

  • Jim Tilley July 31, 2012, 10:32 pm |

    Martin .
    I believe like service pensions the police pension is indexed here. But talk to NARPO They will know for sure. We do have some NARPO members in BPiA; and please sign that petition to help get your UK OAP indexed out here, as we are trying to do. Tell all your mates and families about this unfair, immoral discrimination the Government imposes on UK expats in many countries. Visit the website and tell you friends to do the same please. Publicise this social injustice by the UK Government.

    Contact us when you make up your minds to come to a better place than Britain.

    Kind regards,

    Jim Tilley

  • martin h July 31, 2012, 9:51 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    we’re seriously considering moving to Oz in 4 years time when I retire from the police. My wife is a midwife and is planning on working out in Oz whilst I lay back and enjoy the sunshine.
    Do you or anybody out there have any ideas how the UK police pension works for ex pats cops in Oz?

    Martin h

  • BobinOz July 31, 2012, 1:42 pm |

    Thanks Jim and George for all your contributions too, let’s hope we can make enough noise to get this thing sorted out.

    Fair play would be nice, the extra money pensioners would be even better.

  • George Morley July 31, 2012, 1:06 am |

    As Jim Tilley said , Thanks Bob. That’s the kind of response we like to see and we will get justice in the end. Having to admit that the British government does this is embarassing and I wonder what happened to the British sense of fair play, it does’nt seem to exist in the political world.and having a stiff upper lip does’nt pay the bills, does it ? ?

  • Jim Tilley July 30, 2012, 10:40 pm |

    Thanks Bob, your keen support is very heartening .


  • BobinOz July 30, 2012, 9:56 pm |

    Thank you all for your comments and for the details of the petition we can all sign. I have now signed it and I have also updated the post right at the top with full details of how others can sign the petition too.

    I’ve also sent out a Facebook notification to all my Facebook friends asking them to come here and sign too, and I’ve done the same with a tweet.

    The short code for this page is so if any of you would like to copy it and use it to send to your Facebook friends or for a tweet, we’d all be really grateful.

    Let’s get some signatures!



  • Jim Tilley July 29, 2012, 10:40 pm |

    Rest assured 2 things .
    1 We are fighting for ALL overseas retirees being indexed, not just Commonwealth nations. The issue impacts mainly in the Commonwealth and if you email me I will send you the full list of nations with both indexed pension and those without. From this list you will see that Canada Australia South Africa and New Zealand represent about 95% of the frozen pensioners. We have contacts with people in Thailand and Indonesia and Canada with people I believe in Panama and the Falkland Islands
    2 The Aussie Government are well aware of the impact on this economy of non indexing. I provide them with figures regularly.

    Email me on and I can supply you with several articles and much data which you can use to help us in our fight for us all .

  • Andy Robertson-Fox July 29, 2012, 9:32 pm |

    It was pleasing to note that members of the Australian government have recently questioned their UK counterparts on this issue. It was stated that Australia subsidises UK pensioners living there by around £70 million a year. This, of course, is only the tip if the iceberg. There are about 600,000 frozen pensioners world wide, we are told by UK Pensions Minister Steve Webb to uprate would cost £655 million; on average, therefore, the shortfall per pensioner is about £1,100 per year. This means that UK citizens in Australia are being denied almost £280 million …money which is potential spending power in the Australian economy…per year. I wonder if the Australian Government fully appreciate that this is a truer picture as it is certainly “hidden” by the UK government!
    Second point – I do not live in a Commonwealth country but in one where there are no provisions by which my income can be subsidised if it falls below a certain level. I am not allowed to work as this would break the conditions on my visa. If I do not satisfy on an annual basis the income level imposed I shall either have to leave the country every three months and apply abroad to come back in or be forced to return to the UK.
    So while I have every sympathy for those in Australia and Canada (good to see your fame is so widespread BobinOz!) my only concern is that preferential treatment may eventually be offered to Commonwealth countries at the expense of Non-Commonwealth. This campaign must never lose sight of the aim for world wide fairness, justice and equality.

  • Jim Tilley July 28, 2012, 10:03 am |

    Thanks Anne, I hope to hear from you soon to provide all the evidence we have gathered over the past few years. If you are in Australia why not join us and become regularly informed of the activities of BPiA CABP and the ICBP. It is best we gather together in our efforts rather then run our own little shows.

  • Jim Tilley July 28, 2012, 9:18 am |

    Anne, with respect Champollion has performed major work which goes unheralded. The London Telegraph, Expat version has carried several stories of our campaign, most of which have come courtesy of approaches made by Champollion to the Telegraph, and they guide us in preparing our stories. Go to and scroll down and read the many articles there.

    Champollion helped us “open doors” in Perth at the Peoples’ Forum and with the Commonwealth Foundation in October 2011. They have recently assisted with our approach to Baroness Floella Benjamin to spread the message of discrimination into Britain’s Black and Ethnic Minorities, who like us are also disadvantaged by the UK Government’s immoral pension policy. Articles have been published in the past few weeks in the Caribbean “Voice” and “Afro News”.
    I can send you copies of those too if you wish to read them.
    The Guardian too, with Champollion’s involvement, carried 2 articles in April, copies of which I can send you if you email me for them via Champollion helped develop and organise the handing over of the “Book of Heroes” outside NO 10 Downing Street the event of which, not because of any fault on theirs, was hijacked by Julian Assange outside a London Court.

    Champollion has developed and monitored the ICBP website www, which is showing its worth now. The petition has proved disappointing so far, not for want of effort on behalf of our members, but this petition is just one aspect of our fight for justice. Our chaps in Canada are in regular contact with Champollion in discussing and developing our publicity programme; we respect their knowledge in such matters and the contacts they have and introductions to key people they have organised for us.

    Champollion operate from the “back-room” and their efforts are much appreciated, their cost is very reasonable having tried ourselves in Australia to engage PR help which proved very ineffective. BPiA gave it away after a 6 months trail at considerable cost. Email me for more information or call me on 1300 308 353 if you are in Australia.

    • Anne Puckridge July 28, 2012, 9:45 am |

      Thank you, Mr. Tilley, for that very informative reply. It is good to know that Champollion are activly promoting awareness of the injustice of the Government’s Frozen Pension Policy and we hope they can make ever-further progress with the service they are providing. As you say, they are working from the “back room” and I am sure you will understand why I raised the question of their effrectiveness. I shall be reading the link you provided for the Telegraph articles and shall take up your offer to e-mail you for copies of Champollion’s articles in the Guardian which will be circulated to other members of the small group with whom I am campaigning for pension parity. Thank you also for your very prompt reply.

  • Anne Puckridge July 28, 2012, 2:10 am |

    A quick question for Mr. Tilley, please! We are aware that the ICBP (of which BPiA is a member) uses the paid services of Champollion, an independent public relations and public affairs consultancy. Why, therefore, is there is no evidence whatsoever of their work towards promoting publicity about the injustice of frozen pensions? It seems that it is being left entirely to individual pensioners to campaign, on web sites such as this one, against the UK’s policy of discriminatingly freezing the pensions of State pensioners, based purely on location.

  • Jane Davies July 28, 2012, 2:06 am |

    I will just add to George’s comment above about the epetition, one does not have to an expat to sign. Any British citizen can sign so get all of your friends and relatives around the world and back in the UK to sign, we need 100,000 signatures by September and we are not even half way there. This is very dissapointing as this injustice affects 500,000 we should have reached the target by now. If we get 100,000 and the support of an MP this disgusting issue will get debated in Parliament. So click on George’s link and vote and also email the link to everyone you can think of who are UK citizens, we must end this theft of our hard earned money.

  • George Morley July 27, 2012, 1:28 pm |

    I posted a little early there and wanted to say that it should be easy to get the required 100,000 signatures but that does not seem to be the case, so come on guys and gals, it is so easy to do.
    I would add that the UK government when questioned have been putting out lies and saying that a bilateral or reciprocal agreement is required in countries where the freezing exists – this is BS and no agreement is required at all. If you get that answer ask your own MP’s and they will tell you different. The freezing is purely a UK government regulation that they can remove at a stroke given the will of the MP’s. Get active and write a letter to an MP or e-mail the DWP.and make their life a bloody misery. Query the answers. I also belong to a group of seven pensioners who are doing just that. It won’t get changed unless we all get actively complaining so become a real whinging Pom and you might get some satisfaction. You might even enjoy it !.

    • Jim Tilley July 27, 2012, 3:50 pm |

      George you are quite right about there being no necessity for bilateral agreements. This is precisely the conclusion of the 1997 House of Commons Select Committee which reviewed this issue. Their conclusion states;-

      “Surely non one would have deliberately designed a policy of paying pensions to people living abroad to end up in the position we are at today ….It would be clearly impractical to negotiate individual bilateral agreements with each of the countries in the world where people draw British State retirement pensions and in any case unnecessary; a simple change in British Law could enable up-ratings to be paid in any or all overseas countries provided the political will was there to do so”. The concluding recommendation was that; “there should be a free vote at prime time to allow members to express their opinion on the principle of whether the Government should pay up-ratings to some or all of those pensioners living in countries where up-ratings are not paid at present”.

      So far since 1997 I am unaware of this recommendation having been implemented. The International Consortium of British Pensioners [of which BPiA is a founder member] has since provided a Senior UK Cabinet Minister with the Oxford Economic report which indicates that to index the pensions for all abroad and not just some could provide an overall saving in the next 15 years of about £30 Billion. This saving and its potential to reduce the National Debt has to be publicised to all MP’s asking them why does the UK
      Government not move to take advantage of this potential saving by ceasing each year to legislate a regulation which discriminates against the 550,000 now retired abroad, particularly the 252,000 in Commonwealth Australia.

      Please email me if you wish to read this HoC report conclusion. Furthermore please do as George suggests. Sign our petition- and hassle and educate your UK MP. Don’t let the Minister for Pensions Steve Webb or DWP provide your MP with the official sanitised information being touted by this duplicitous Government and its complicit administration.

  • George Morley July 27, 2012, 1:15 pm |

    Well I am another frozen pensioner living over the other side in Canada and I have been involved in trying to get this discrimination stopped for many years as a member of CABP who have been spearheading the effort by the ICBP to get justice for all pensioners who are affected. Thereis an e-petition which could get us somewhere if only sufficient British citizens would sign it and they don’t have to be pensioners, anyone , family or friends as long as they are ex-pats. Go to : T

  • Student Nurse Chris July 26, 2012, 9:16 pm |

    This is unfortunate, and highlights the importance for those who are able to get a private pension now that the government has thrown the state pension under the bus. I can’t this the current Tory government wanting to negotiate on this, and the few hundred-thousand ex-pats in Aus are just few enough and far enough away to be ignored.

    A sad situation all round, but nothing surprises me anymore. I doubt I’ll have an NHS pension by the time I am ready to retire either.

    • BobinOz July 26, 2012, 10:22 pm |

      Trouble is, if the government who are supposed to be triple A rated let you down, it must be just as easy for a private pension company to rip you off too. Easier I would have thought.

      It doesn’t make sense to me that a private company can employ salesmen, give them brand-new cars every couple of years, pay for all the petrol and operate out of big tall buildings with high overheads and rates and then claim to take our money and invest it better than we can ourselves, when we live in a modest homes and buy second-hand cars every five years.

      How does that make mathematical sense?

      Sorry, that was a bit of a rant, but it is a sad situation all round.

      • Denise July 30, 2012, 11:11 pm |

        I couldn’t agree more! People have been made to compulsory contribute their money into super funds, only to lose the lot, or nearly all of it, on bad decisions made by the super companies without any comeback whatsoever. Most of us can manage our own money quite well, without being made to put it where we are told and cannot withdraw it until retirement age, unlike the politicians.

        • BobinOz July 31, 2012, 1:33 pm |

          ‘bad decisions made by the super companies’ whose directors and board members generally remain super rich.

          Not bad decisions for them, unfortunately.

          As I said in answer to a comment earlier on, a 9% super isn’t a bad idea as long as the government give it back. Are you saying they had already mismanaged all those contributions? I suppose they have, everyone else has!

          Managing your own retirement funds, if you do it right, cannot be bettered. The downside is that many people intend to take care of it themselves, but actually never get round to it and then all of a sudden, it’s too late. As you say Denise, most people can manage their money quite well, but because some can’t, the government impose super on all paid employees.

          There should be another way, maybe there is, where people can opt out and declare they will self manage their own pension.

  • Andy Painter July 26, 2012, 3:08 pm |


    How do pensions work once your are a Oz citizen? Can you transfer your UK state pension rights from UK to OZ.

    This also assumes that the UK is going to be able to pay anyone a pension in the future, UK based or not in the next 25 years, (when i’m due to retire). I can see pensions being cut back as the UK will expect everybody to take care and make provision themselves, or we all keep working till well past 70. Agree that those retired now should have what they were promised.

    I’m in a fortunate position where i don’t plan on being reliant on any govt. to pay my way in retirement, it’s only a bonus if they can …… this is what needs to change for us Gen X’ers and Gen Y, we need to save and plan now, while there is plenty of time. I love that the govt. in Australia make us all save 9% towards retirement.


    • BobinOz July 26, 2012, 10:17 pm |

      Hi Andy

      I’m not sure exactly how it works, rather than me guess, I’ll try and get Jim in here to answer your question. He does know what he’s talking about.

      I think when it comes to government pensions, they should definitely now be regarded as bonuses rather than money in the bank. Governments can clearly change the age when you can start receiving a pension, they can freeze them, not indexed link them as they’ve done with those of us who have moved here to Australia, I suppose ultimately they can even say we can’t afford to pay them, we’re skint!

      Yes, good idea to make employed people put by 9% here in Australia, but let’s hope they give it back to us when we need it!

    • Jim Tilley July 27, 2012, 8:58 am |

      Andy, Once you have been here for 10 years, in a permanent capacity, then at pension age, currently 65, you will be eligible for an Aussie State pension, but it is means tested on both an assets base and income base. These calculations are quite complex and they are regularly changed for inflation. I can email you a paper BPiA provides its members if you wish to contact me at You can still receive the UK pension here. It will be based on the number of years you have contributed, but at the moment once it starts it is frozen. Moreover for every $1 you get from the UK or any other source, including the superannuation you’ll receive from the 9% you contribute to compulsory super you lose 50 cents off your Aussie State pension. As an example I’m aged 74 and have only recently become eligible for the Aussie State pension, having been here for over 40 years, and I am given a very small, $30 approx per fortnight. The full single pension is currently about $345/week, but when on the pension, here in NSW I receive several benefits, like lower council rate charges, power and water subsidies, a free driving licence and medical prescription benefits . The level of these vary according to the State in which you choose to live. I hope that helps some of your understanding but the compulsory 9% [due to increase soon towards 12% ] was established to reduce people wanting State pensions, for which there is no contribution like the NI contribution, which all of us paid when working in the UK.

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