State pension: Therese Coffey addresses why half a million people are missing out on boost

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It is estimated more than 500,000 UK state pensioners have found themselves unable to receive an annual increase to their state pension payments each year. This is due to where they live, as the state pension can be impacted for those who live overseas.

The government website explains a person’s UK state pension only increases each year if they live in:

  • The European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Gibraltar
  • Switzerland
  • Countries with a social security agreement with the UK (but a person cannot get increases in Canada or New Zealand).

“You will not get yearly increases if you live outside these countries,” it states.


“Your pension will go up to the current rate if you return to live in the UK.”

The issue – which has become known as frozen pensions – was addressed in the House of Commons today, during Live Work and Pensions Questions.

Labour MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, said in the House of Commons: “82-year-old Monica Philip emigrated to the UK as part of the Windrush generation and worked for 37 years as a civil servant.

“She now lives on a UK state pension of just £74.11 a week because she returned to Antigua to care for her ailing mother.

“Pensioners like Monica came to the UK at the invitation of the British government but they’re now being penalised for returning to their country of birth some times not through their own choice.

“Will the Secretary of State review the unfair policy that sees half a million UK state pensioners denied annual increases to their UK state pension?”

The Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey replied: “The situation that happens with aspects of pensions is quite complicated and often these are reciprocal arrangements, so that’s where you get things like aggregation that may well happen, but that does rely on those agreements being in place.

“That’s been the policy on pensions for longer than any of us have been alive I expect in this House, that continue to be honoured.

“I’m conscious of what she says but there may well be other elements of support to which the constituent she refers may be entitled.”

Last year, Ms Philip spoke exclusively to about the issue.

She explained she made the decision to move to care for the mother back in 1996, prior to reaching state pension age.

The rate at the time stood at £74.11 per week – the same amount she gets today, 24 years later.

Meanwhile, Monica’s younger sister Naomi, who is three years her junior and lives in Leicester, receives a full up-rated basic state pension.

Currently, the full basic state pension is £134.25 per week, while the full new state pension is £175.20 per week.

Last year, a DWP spokesperson said: “It would cost taxpayers more than £3billion over five years to change course on an issue which has been clear and settled Government policy for 70 years.

“We have no plans to do so.”

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