UK's no-deal report 'offers no comfort to OAPs abroad'

A ‘No-deal Readiness Report’ published by the UK government last week has “not one word in it that offers long-term comfort to the tens of thousands of increasingly frightened UK citizens living within the rest of the EU” a Conservative MP has said.

15 October 2019
Sir Roger tells cabinet minister Michael Gove about his concerns over the no-deal report
By Oliver Rowland

Speaking to cabinet member Michael Gove in Parliament last week, Sir Roger Gale said a letter he sent last month to the prime minister seeking clarifications about state pension uprating, pensioners’ healthcare and exportable benefits remained unanswered and there was no new comfort in the report.

He said: “This is not a matter of reciprocal arrangements.

“It is within the clear gift of the UK government to look after our own people. Will my Right Honorable friend give a clear undertaking that that will be done?”

Mr Gove responded that page 43 of the report includes the UK’s commitment to uprating the pensions of Britons abroad in the EU until 2022 and that the policy will be “kept under review”.

In his letter to Mr Johnson, Sir Roger had demanded uprating be guaranteed for the future and also said  the UK must also immediately guarantee UK state pensioners’ healthcare payments, or risk an “exodus… of very many elderly people to the UK”.

The most relevant sections of the readiness report for Connexion readers can be found from page 40-44 dealing with UK nationals in the EU, 45-47 on UK nationals travelling to the EU and 48-50 on transport.

The report acknowledges that “UK nationals may face change and uncertainty” and recommends that they take steps including “familiarising themselves with the requirements of their members state of residence”.

All EU states have passed legislation relating to Britons’ rights, it says, but the details may vary from state to state in a no-deal.

With regard to pensioners’ healthcare it repeats the UK’s offer to provide funding for up to a year for treatments people are “in the middle of” on exit day (ie. health treatments they are already having or are booked in to have).

It also confirms a fall-back offer to pay any healthcare that people may be ‘asked to pay for’ in the first six months and while they “make alternative arrangements for their future healthcare cover, including registering for healthcare in their country of residence”.

On pension uprating the report says the UK will seek EU-wide reciprocity and/or bilateral agreements with states to maintain uprating in EU states.

The UK will continue to maintain rules on social security coordination “as far as possible unilaterally at exit day”, and “those receiving UK benefits will continue to receive these as long as they continue to meet eligibility criteria”, the document says, but it adds that “social security coordination, including reciprocal healthcare, is however dependent on reciprocation".

The government states it is therefore currently seeking either EU-wide or country by country to maintain social security coordination, including on healthcare, to the end of 2020.

It has also “significantly increased consular capacity to ensure an effective response to enquiries from UK nationals seeking help in the UK, including requests for assistance from the most vulnerable”.

Among matters flagged up in the report for Britons in the EU is the fact that no-deal may disrupt EU social security coordination rules that ensure that workers only pay social charges in one member state. It advises that those who live and work between two countries check the rules with social security authorities.

Connexion notes that British state pensioners living in France who currently benefit from a reduction of French social charges on their property and investment incomes, or people living in the UK with property incomes from France, also face losing this benefit as it relates to not having to pay into social security systems of more than one EU state.

It is also expected that UK state pensioners in France would lose a French social charges exemption on UK pension income should the UK cease paying for their healthcare and they become a burden on French social security.

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