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End frozen UK state pensions in Thailand

The 40-year effort to persuade the British government to cease the discriminatory practice of freezing the state pensions of some 520,000 British expats abroad is looking to expand its membership among Thai expats. End Frozen Pensions – Thailand Branch received a response this week from British MP Sir Roger Gale, who says the sticking block is the UK Treasury’s fear of a torrent of catching-up claims amounting to millions of pounds.

The British government only authorizes inflation-linked increases to the state pension in a restricted number of non-EU nations based on so-called “mutually-assured” agreements.

Thailand is not one of the lucky countries, but the Philippines is. The problem has been raised numerous times with UK legal authorities as well as international human rights courts. However, the reaction has always been that the alleged discrimination is a political rather than a legal issue, and hence outside of the purview of the judiciary.
Upgrading all expats’ state pensions, regardless of location, might cost up to 2 billion pounds over several years, although even that price is less than one percent of the entire pensions expense over a similar time period.

Most political commentators believe there is no prospect of the Conservative administration changing its views, however the Labour party is more supportive of ending the discriminatory practice. Separately, there is now law allowing long-term expats to vote in UK general elections, however the numbers are small and spread over many areas.
Expats interested in joining the new group should contact End Frozen Pensions – Thailand Branch on Facebook. With a British general election coming up next year, the organisation believes now is a good time to mobilize British expats in Thailand, which are estimated to number approximately 50,000 people, largely retirees on annual renewable visas.

The vast majority have private or company pensions in addition to the state pension, which is frozen upon arrival or as soon as the UK tax authorities discover it. According to a Thai press story from last year, there were apparently over 1,000 Britons living in Thailand on the Elite visa, which allows numerous entries for a period of 5 to 20 years. Approximately 5,000 British citizens have work permits to work in the restaurant, entertainment, and high-tech industries.


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