Expat June Borsberry has had a long fight to ensure that moving to Canada has included receiving her full pension entitlement. By Ava Hubble.
James Nelson, president of the British Australian Pensioners Association, has helped a Canada-based expat win her battle with the UK's Department of Work and Pensions.
When June Borsberry, aged 83, joined her family near Toronto three years ago, after a career as a probation officer, her British pension was frozen at the UK rate then in force.
This was in line with the UK's long-standing policy of not granting annual cost-of-living increases to British pensioners who retire to most Commonwealth countries.
Several organisations, including two in Australia, are continuing to campaign for the policy to be reversed.
After settling in Canada June noticed an alert that had been posted on the net by Mr Nelson. It gave details of a little-known special provision that enables some frozen pensioners - those who contributed to a public sector scheme between 1978 and 1997 - to at least have a portion of their service pensions, the Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) portion, regularly uprated in line with inflation.
After contacting the DWP and her former employer, Devon County Council, June received the uprating and some back pay.
Later she wrote to the UK Parliamentary and Health Service ombudsman (as her complaint involved a government department) to point out that she would have remained unaware of the special provision had it not been for the alert posted by Mr Nelson.
Why, she wondered, had she not been advised about the special provision by the DWP at the time of her emigration? Could it be that many DWP staff are unaware of the provision? Could it be that many expat frozen pensioners are being short-changed as a result?
To her amazement, she subsequently received a letter from the DWP advising that as the result of further investigations it had been found that she was not entitled to the special provision after all and that she would be required to refund the uprating.
She forwarded the letter to Mr Nelson. He pursued the matter on her behalf, quoting evidence including advice he has received over the years from the Treasury and Cabinet Office confirming the special provision for eligible expats.
In an e-mailed response a contrite senior DWP official conceded that June had been incorrectly advised and that steps were being taken to see that all staff were aware of the special provison.
The upshot was that June's GMP backdated uprating was again reinstated.
Mr Nelson believes that at least 30,000 of the estimated half-a-million expats currently being penalised by the frozen pensions policy remain unaware of the special provisions for teachers, civil servants, firemen and others who contributed to public sector schemes between 1978 and 1997.
He has called on the DWP to examine its records and trace and compensate every expatriate public sector pensioner who has been denied the indexation of the GMP portion of their pentions during the last 20 years. "This is a clear case of maladministration" he said.
• The British Australian Pensioners Association can be contacted at www.britishpensions.org.au