BPiA is constantly in touch with breaking news and events in the UK about pension justice and our fight.  Since our campaign began there has been a growing interest in the issue from concerned politicians, jurists and of course the media.  Our network of members and volunteers both here and in the UK constantly monitor the UK media and maintain active contacts in the UK so that you, as a member, can be regularly kept up to date.  Check our news feed to see how we are going.

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Here's an excellent article published in The Guardian that takes up the issue of the Windrush generation of discriminated UK Pensioners. Click HERE to read it (you will have to register as a Guardian reader but there's no paywall charge involved)

End Frozen Pensions Campaign

Tendo monthly update to the International Consortium of British Pensioners 2 July 2020

This brief covers the period 29 May– 2 July.

Currently the campaign is operating remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. The news and political agenda continue to be dominated by the Government’s response to the pandemic. However, there is increasing scope to campaign on the issue of ‘frozen pensions’ as the UK settles into a ‘new normal’.

Parliamentary Activity

This month we held ‘virtual’ meetings with Sir Roger Gale MP, Bell Ribeiro Addy MP and Lord Randall of Uxbridge. We also held follow up conversations with Neil Gray MP and Amy Callaghan MP and secured support from Daisy Cooper MP, Kirsty Blackman MP, Neale Hanvey MP and Kirsten Oswald MP.

Meeting with Lord Randall of Uxbridge

We held a virtual meeting with Lord Randall where we took him through the plan for the campaign and discussed a range of tactics and approaches to confront the government with the issue of frozen pensions in both the Commons and the Lords. Lord Randall was very supportive of the campaign and we agreed to keep in regular touch. We discussed tabling an amendment to any future bill on Voting Rights for Expats, which was a commitment in the Conservative Manifesto. We continue to follow up with Lord Randall on a number of issues and believe the Voting Rights for Expats Bill will be a strong area for the campaign when published.

Meeting with Bell Ribeiro Addy MP

We met with Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, former Shadow Immigration Minister and campaigner on issues affecting the Windrush generation. Bell kindly agreed to write a personal letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on behalf of a UK pensioner affected by the issue of frozen pensions. To this end, we sent her a document of potential case studies. On 22 June, Bell submitted a written question on the impact of the frozen pension policy on the Windrush generation. This question was answered this week and in response the campaign has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Department for Work and Pensions for the background notes and emails related to this question and its answer. Bell also agreed to submit a question for Work and Pensions oral questions on 29 June. Bell’s written question has been picked up by the Daily Express and we are working with them on potential Windrush stories.

Communication with Neil Gray MP and Amy Callaghan MP and Private Members Bill Update

We have been working with Neil Gray MP and Amy Callaghan MP towards a Private Members Bill on the campaign to end frozen pensions. Unfortunately, Amy Callaghan MP who was due to be the Bill’s lead sponsor and mover suffered a brain haemorrhage and continues to recover from the effects. As such we have agreed to ‘pause’ on this area for a fortnight to not be viewed as crass. We are, however, considering alternative lead sponsors and are working on securing agreement from co-sponsors from all parties. We are also due to speak to Neil Gray MP about the Voting Rights Bill, with a view to securing his buy in to work with Lord Randall to table amendments to the Bill when it is published.

APPG on Frozen British Pensions update

Earlier this month we met with Sir Roger Gale MP to discuss the launch of an inquiry of the APPG on Frozen British Pensions. Over the month we finalised the inquiry questions with Sir Roger and worked with him to draft letters to the Speakers of the representative assemblies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico. These letters, now sent, ask parliamentarians in these countries to respond to the inquiry. We would be grateful if you could reach out to any parliamentary contacts in your country to encourage them to submit evidence.

This week on 30 June 2020, the APPG officially launched its inquiry. The full letter announcing the inquiry can be accessed on the APPG website here http://frozenbritishpensions.org/2020-appginquiry/. The APPG welcomes responses from all interested parties and has written to the Department for Work and Pensions to ask them to respond in the interest of balance. We will also be writing to other interest groups and stakeholders to encourage them to submit evidence and would be grateful if the ICBP, CABP, BPiA and the British Caribbean Pensioners Association could all submit evidence to the inquiry. The campaign to End Frozen Pensions will also be submitting evidence.

Our next step is to set up a survey specifically for ICBP members so that we can collect data on the individuals impacted by the frozen pension policy.

Ministerial engagement Cabinet Office

Tendo, ICBP board members and former Chair Nigel Nelson worked together to draft a letter to the Prime Minister from John Duffy as Chair of the ICBP. This letter covers the three pillars to expose the Government’s arguments against uprating that we outlined in our last update. These are that UK pensioners living on a frozen pension were told that they would no longer receive annual increases before they left the UK, that it is too expensive to uprate the pensions of the over 500,000 pensioners impacted and that bilateral social agreements are needed to uprate. This letter has been sent to the Prime Minister.

Ministry of Defence

We have drafted a proposed letter from Anne Puckridge to Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and sent it to her for review. This personal letter will form the beginning of the campaign’s engagement with the Minister for Veterans, who previously supported the campaign and attended the ICBP’s parliamentary event in 2018. Sir Roger Gale is very keen that we allow Johnny Mercer to engage with the campaign privately first and has agreed to flag our approach with the Minister and speak to him personally. We also plan to draft another letter from Anne to General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, who was asked about the issue of frozen pensions on the Today programme after Anne’s appearance and refused to engage with the issue. We hope this proposed letter can form the basis of potential media coverage in the Daily Mail.

New Windrush Working Group

On 22 June, the Government launched a new cross-government working group to address challenges faced by the Windrush Generation and their descendants, this will be chaired by the Home Secretary and Bishop Derek Webley. In response to this news, we have drafted a proposed letter to the Chairs of this new group. This will alert the group to the impact of the frozen pension policy on the Windrush generation as well as provide a potential media opportunity as we hope to share the letter with either the Guardian or the Express.

Media update

The Guardian

This week we held a phone call with Rupert Jones, personal finance correspondent at the Guardian, to discuss the potential for him to cover the campaign again. Rupert Jones remains very supportive but mentioned the difficulty of pitching stories at the moment due to the prevalence of news on the Government’s response to COVID-19. Rupert is looking to cover case studies of members of the Windrush generation or former public servants impacted by the frozen pension policy and we will be sending him material to form the basis of a story.

The Daily Mail

This week we also had a phone call with Larisa Brown, Defence and Security Editor for the Daily Mail. Larisa set up several interviews with case studies earlier this year but was unable to cover the story in the end. She is still very keen to cover the campaign would like to be kept informed of potential stories on news of the campaign’s progress. If Anne is happy to write to Sir Nick Carter, then we may look to share this letter with Larisa to cover.

The Express

David Williamson, Deputy Political Editor at the Express has expressed interest in covering the links between the campaign and the Windrush Generation because of the question we asked Bell Ribeiro Addy to table. We will be working with him to provide supportive quotes and case studies. We provided information for and secured a quote in an Express Online article by Jess Sheldon on 3 June https://www.express.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/1290190/state-pension-uk-increaseamount-triple-lock-rise-frozen. We also provided an opinion piece focusing on Broken Faith for KCW Global Magazine, which we will share when we receive a digital copy

Other potential media opportunities

- We worked with Anne Puckridge to help her submit a Subject Access Request to the Department for Work and Pensions for the information they hold relating to her pension and communication between her and the department before she emigrated to Canada

- We have reached out to Harold Williams, who lives in Antigua and is part of the Windrush Generation to see if he might be happy to speak to journalists about his experience of living on a frozen pension

- We are also looking to place a potential story for VJ day on 15 August featuring Patricia Coulthard and have been in communication with her son to collate more information on her experience

Broken Faith

Brian Owles has sent us some suggested edits to the Broken Faith document to make it more compact and suitable for a launch in Australia. We will be working with Brian and our graphic designer to make these edits.

End Frozen Pensions: Campaign Update 12th June 2020  

This campaign update covers the period from May 29th to June 12th .  

Parliamentary Activity This fortnight we held ‘virtual’ meetings with Sir Roger Gale MP, to discuss the future of the APPG on Frozen British Pensions, and Lord John Randall, held follow up conversations with Neil Gray MP and Amy Callaghan MP and secured support from Daisy Cooper MP, Kirsty Blackman MP, Neale Hanvey MP and Kirsten Oswald MP. We have also rescheduled our meeting with Bell Ribeiro Addy MP, which was cancelled as result of parliamentary problems. We also have a further meeting with Amy Callaghan MP and Neil Gray MP next week.  

We have also capitalised on the increase in the number of emails to MPs as a result of Broken Faith by collating the website data to calculate which MPs have received the most emails from constituents. We have now emailed these MPs to ask them for a meeting with the campaign.  

Sir Roger Gale MP, Chair of the APPG on Frozen British Pensions. This week we held a very productive meeting with Sir Roger Gale MP, where we talked him through our proposal for an APPG inquiry, beginning 22nd June and running for 6 weeks until August 2020. Sir Roger was very supportive of the plan and agreed to:  

  • Write to the respective Speakers of the representative Houses in Canada, Australia, NewZealandand South Africa to ask them to encourage members of parliament and informal/formal parliamentary groups to respond to the Inquiry.  
  • Write to Guy Opperman MP for an update on the status of the uprating of the pensions of UK pensioners living in EU countries to help us prepare to react to any developments.

We are now working with Sir Roger to get final approval on the APPG inquiry announcement and questions (with added questions for foreign administrations where ‘frozen’ pensioners are resident and civil society groups) and share news of the inquiry with the other APPG officers. It may be possible for the respective national organisations to ask supportive politicians from their nations to make submissions, which will be useful in the UK, but will also provide media collateral for you to use.  

Neil Gray MP, SNP Spokesman for Work and Pensions and Amy Callaghan MP, SNP Junior Pensions Spokeswoman. As previously mentioned, we have been working with Neil Gray MP to secure backing and support for a 10 Minute Rule Bill based on Broken Faith. We have held further discussions on this, and Amy Callaghan MP has provisionally agreed to be the lead sponsor (who will introduce the Bill.) At their request we have also discussed the proposed bill with a parliamentary bill expert who has provided useful advice on our plans. We are due to meet with Amy and Neil again on the 18th, after which we will look to secure cross party co-sponsors to ensure that the Government understand the widespread support for ending frozen pensions.  

Lord John Randall. We held a positive meeting with Lord Randall today (12th) and took him through the campaign’s future, which John has agreed to support wherever possible. We also discussed a range of other tactics and approaches which we will take forward including looking to table an amendment to any future bill on Voting Rights for Expats. (This was a manifesto commitment in the Conservative Manifesto which has not yet been published.) Lord Randall will also be tabling a number of parliamentary questions and we have agreed to remain in regular touch and work together as much as possible moving forwards.  

Media Update - Traditional Media We have scheduled a catch-up online meeting with Guardian journalist Rupert Jones in a couple of weeks to touch base on the campaign and discuss future articles, he is currently snowed under with COVID-19 related stories but hopes to cover the issue towards the end of June or early July.  

We provided information for and secured a quote in an Express Online article by Jess Sheldon on 3 rd June https://www.express.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/1290190/state-pension-uk-increaseamount-triple-lock-rise-frozen  

We also provided an opinion piece focusing on Broken Faith for KCW Global Magazine, which we will share when we receive a digital copy.  

Story ideas and case studies We worked with Anne Puckridge to help her submit a Subject Access Request to the Department for Work and Pensions for the information they hold relating to her pension and communication between her and the department before she emigrated to Canada. We hope this request will prove our case that Anne was not informed by DWP that her pension would be frozen before she left the UK.  

We are also working to expand our collection of case studies and produce an MP briefing on people with frozen pensions impacted by COVID-19.  

We are also working with David Coulthard (Patricia Coulthard’s son) to get more information about her military service before reaching out to media contacts.  

We also continue to approach media regarding John Hillman.  

Social Media We are continuing to post infographics on the End Frozen Pensions twitter account regularly with the write to your MP link, we will now commence posting these on the Facebook page as well. These are available for anybody to use and have been shared with the CABP. 

It's often said, it’s in the Caribbean that the UK’s frozen pension policy is most vulnerable. This recent article from the Sunday Express tells the sad story.

 

 

End Frozen Pensions: Campaign Update and Next Steps. 13th May 2020 

Campaign Update This campaign update covers the period from April 12th to May 13th. During the entirety of this period the UK was in lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of this period the UK Parliament was not sitting due to the Easter recess. It has since returned but is sitting ‘quasi- virtually’ with a very limited number of MPs in the House of Commons chamber and most MPs using video conferencing software to attend.  

Parliamentary Activity We have held several ‘virtual’ meetings with MPs from all major parties. The focus of these meetings was to brief MPs on Broken Faith, with the aim of it being used to raise frozen pensions in the weeks ahead.  

Neil Gray MP, SNP Spokesman for Work and Pensions NG reinforced that the SNP remain fully behind the campaign viewing it as ‘a moral outrage’. He agreed to:  

  • Be one of the lead signatories of an open letter to Therese Coffey MP and help to secure signatories from other SNP members 
  • Table an Early Day Motion in support of Broken Faith 
  • Ensure that SNP MPs table oral questions on Frozen Pensions (for each session) 
  • Secure an SNP sponsor to table a Private Members/10 Minute Rule Bill 
  • Become a listed supporter of the campaign 

We have held a follow up phone call with NG and all the above are underway.  

Neil Coyle MP, Labour, Member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee This was an introductory meeting following his election to the Work and Pensions Select Committee. Neil is fully supportive of the campaign and has agreed to:  

  • Raise Frozen Pensions during the Work and Pensions Select Committee session on 20th May (if possible) 
  • Sign both the Early Day Motion and open letter to Therese Coffey MP 
  • Take over as Vice Chair of the APPG on Frozen Pensions 
  • Table written and oral questions 
  • Become a listed supporter of the campaign 

Neil is particularly interested in the impact of COVID-19 on frozen pensioners. We are putting together a separate briefing for him.  

Shaun Bailey MP, Conservative, Member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee. Shaun is a newly elected MP and broadly supportive of the campaign. He agreed to:  

  • Table written questions 
  • Raise Frozen Pensions during the Work and Pensions Select Committee session on 20th May (if possible) 

He is also considering signing the open letter – newly elected MPs can often be more cautious!  

Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish and Kenny MacAskill, SNP MP for East Lothian. We also held brief meetings with Andrew and Kenny who agreed to:  

  • Sign the open letter and Early Day Motion 
  • Become listed supporters of the campaign We expect to have several meetings in the coming weeks. We are waiting on dates from: 
  • Siobhan BaillieMP and Nigel Mills MP - Conservative Members of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Bell Ribero Addy MP - Labour MP and Amy Callaghan MP - SNP MP - expected to table Private Members Bill  

Alongside this, we will also be following up with MPs to gain as many signatories as possible for the open letter.  

APPG Update We will be speaking to Sir Roger Gale MP this week to get his feedback on the proposed questions for the APPG inquiry following agreement from the ICBP board. The APPG officers will also be writing to Therese Coffey asking for her to take urgent action on frozen pensions considering COVID-19 and Broken Faith.  

Media Update Our focus during this time has been securing media coverage for Broken Faith, which included finalising the book itself. We then held discussions with the Daily Express about covering the launch and with the BBC, this led to:  

  • A well-received piece on BBC Radio 4’s Todayprogrammefeaturing interviews with Anne Puckridge and Inez Minc  
  • An article on the BBC website
  • Strong coverage in the Daily Express and a 2nd piece in the Daily Mirror
  • Liaising with, and briefing, MiriamMargolyesahead of her BBC interview  
  • Working with Sheila and Jim to arrange interviews with Inez and Anne.

Alongside this, we also secured quotes in a further Sunday Express article (12th April) and put together a series of case studies on the impacts of COVID-19 for the Daily Express. We will brief other papers on this aspect as it was not used owing to the then upcoming piece on Broken Faith.  

We have also held a follow up discussion with Rupert Jones (Guardian) who ran a piece on Robert Haley in March.  

Social Media Through the update to the Change.org petition (the one featuring Anne) from Gill, we are seeing high volumes of traffic to the ‘write to your MP function’ on the campaign website. To date, we have seen over 650 people email their local MP via our website. We have also designed a range of social media graphics which highlight some of the veterans from Broken Faith.  

Campaign Next Steps: June - December The activity outlined above reflects that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic we have been able to build a significant amount of momentum behind the campaign through the publication of Broken Faith to coincide with VE day commemorations. It is our strong belief that we need to build on the current momentum in the media and in Parliament to further grow support for the campaign.  

Over the next 6 months we propose that the campaign be built around the following key themes: •Veterans - building on the launch of Broken Faith  

  • The impact of COVID-19
  • Brexit and UK pensioners living in the EU
  • Exposing weaknesses in the Government’s argument Veterans and Frozen Pensions.

The recent launch of Broken Faith has opened the campaign to new political and media audiences and has captured new support from a broad range of politicians. We have always argued that Broken Faith should continue to shape the campaign and act as the clearest example of the injustice of the policy. We propose that the campaign:  

  • Work with the SNP to table the ‘Overseas Veterans Pensions Bill’ to raise further awareness of the impact of Frozen Pensions
  • Continue to promote and secure coverage for selected veterans including David Barrett (scheduled to appear in the Guardian) and AnnePuckridgeand Gloria Jeffrey (interviewed by the Daily Mail)  
  • Work with supportive Parliamentarians to send an open letter to Therese Coffey MP
  • Broaden our engagement to target the ‘Office for Veterans’ in the Ministry ofDefence 
  • Work with supportive Parliamentarians to secure oral questions and debates
  • Re-engage with military charities and celebrities to build support
  • Leverage public support for veterans through social media to drive traffic to ‘Write to your MP’ section of the campaign website

The Impact of COVID-19. In all our recent political meetings, politicians have raised the impact of COVID-19 on frozen pensioners. We know from case studies from Antigua and Canada that the pandemic has had a damaging impact on frozen pensioners. This will continue to be of interest to political and media audiences in the months ahead. We propose that the campaign and the ICBP: 

  • Conduct a survey of members/frozen pensioners to ask about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives
  • Reach out for specific case studies which could be used in the media, similar to both AnnePuckridgeand Inez Minc with Broken Faith  
  • Repurpose existing evidence from Age UK and other UK based charities to make the case for UK pensioners overseas.

As a result of our recent activity, we have seen many emails sent to Conservative MPs from our campaign supporters and the responses to these have highlighted the Government’s refreshed arguments. These recent responses place an increased focus on frozen pensioners having been ‘informed’ prior to their emigration. This has always been a common part of their argument but is being pushed much more aggressively in the current climate. It is essential therefore that we rebut this argument and do not let this become an argument believed by newly elected Conservative MPs. We propose that the campaign:  

  • Works with AnnePuckridgeto put in a Data Access Request for all information regarding her pension and emigration to Canada to highlight that she was not aware (This will be a test case before expanding to a wider group of frozen pensioners)  
  • Work with supportive MPs to ask DWP to release examples of how pensioners are informed, including how many letters were sent in different years and how many UK pensioners moved abroad in those same years.
  • Table Freedom of Information requests on the issue.

Alongside this, one of the areas identified by Parliamentarians as a clear indication of the absurdity of the frozen pensions policy is the discrepancies between nations, best exemplified by the case study of Peggy Buchanan and the Canadian/US border. We propose that the campaign should place a real push on highlighting this and the ‘two classes of pensioners’ asking politicians and the media the question - Why is a UK pensioner living in Canada worth less than one living in America? This approach will translate well into the work that members will be doing in their individual nations and work can be coordinated with their respective agencies. This will also come into sharper focus when the UK approaches our scheduled departure from the EU at the end of the year, at which point it is expected that the Government will formally agree to uprate UK pensioners living in EU member states without a reciprocal agreement.  

If we are successful, this will directly take on and rebut two of the Government’s core arguments:  

  • Pensioners were aware of the policy before they left
  • It is only possible where reciprocal agreements have been made

This will then allow us to frame the argument as one of a personal political choice. It is not about reciprocal agreements, if the EU 27 all have agreements without one. It is false to claim all pensioners knew and therefore consented to the policy. It is not about ‘money’ when you uprate a pensioner in the USA but not Canada. It is a question solely of political will. Whilst we and the campaign have been arguing this for a long while, this approach will remove the central thrust of the Government’s arguments and make the path to victory for the campaign a little clearer. To do this we will need: 

  • Support from Parliamentarians in ‘frozen’ nations in signing a letter to the British PM asking why his Government treats their residents as 2nd class pensioners 
  • Support to identify pensioners in ‘unfrozen’ nations to use as a comparator
  • Significant pressure to be put on Governments in your respective nations and broadening out to nations such as South Africa We will then make sure that this is all shared with political and media audiences to add pressure on the Government to act. Brexit and UK pensioners living in the EU Although the Covid-19 pandemic is currently the main political issue of the day, the Government position is still that the timeline for a deal with the EU at the end of the year will stay. This will bring political attention back to the issue of EU pension rights, following the Government announcement in December 2019 that it ‘plans’ to uprate UK pensions for pensioners living in EU member states. This will provide the campaign with several opportunities to highlight the unfairness of frozen pensions (and specifically the geographical disparities) in the media and within Parliament and we will look to exploit these to the benefit of the campaign.

Other priorities. As we have done throughout the campaign, we will look to leverage as much political and media pressure as we can generate and believe that the above will provide ammunition for the campaign moving forwards. But it is essential that the campaign continues to focus on building wider support and knowledge of the issue through:  

  • Securing more MP meetings and new supporters - with a focus on newly elected Conservative MPs
  • Agreeing new petition with change.org featuring Inez Minc, RobertHaleyand Peggy Buchanan 
  • Launching an APPG inquiry into Frozen Pensions
  • Showcasing ‘Windrush’ case studies where possible