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Nationalist MEP Ian Hudghton is contacting the European Commission and UK Government in an attempt to resolve a pensions anomaly which could be infringing UK pensioners rights to live in another EU country.
The MEP has taken up the case of a constituent who has discovered that he stands to lose one-fifth of his pension entitlement, gained by working in New Zealand in the 1950's and 60's, if he moves to Spain. The only way he keeps his full pension is if he stays in the UK. The constituent's NZ pension is governed by the Social Security (New Zealand) Order 1983, which states that such pensions 'shall cease to be payable if and when the person to whom, or in respect of whom, the pension is payable leaves the United Kingdom.' Thus, the thousands of UK citizens who spent some of their working lives in New Zealand now risk losing a chunk of their income by retiring to another EU country.
The Strasbourg Parliament this week is discussing increased co-ordination of EU social security and pension payments to prevent financial loss to people who move within the EU. The report does not extend to UK pensioners with New Zealand pensions. Mr Hudghton believes the current legislation puts many pensioners at a financial disadvantage and wants the law changed.
Speaking en route to Strasbourg today, the MEP said:
"It would be interesting to know how many people are potentially affected by this. Thousands left the UK to work in New Zealand and elsewhere in the 50's and 60's. Of those who have returned to the UK, there may be a fair few contemplating retirement elsewhere in Europe but for whom, the prospect of losing a sizeable chunk of their income is giving them second thoughts. This undermines the right of these pensioners to free movement; one of the fundamental principles of the EU."
"Many UK citizens choose, as they are entitled under EU rules, spend their retirement years in the warmer climes of southern Europe, some for health reasons, but others to be near family who live and work abroad. As a growing number of those who went to New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries in the 50's, 60's and 70's reach pension age, it is imperative that we plug this loophole."
"I have written to the Commission expressing my concerns and will liaise with my Westminster colleagues on how the required legislative change can be made. In the meantime, I would be interested to hear from any other pensioners for whom this has been an issue with a view to lodging a petition in Brussels."