Lords say Britons in EU need more protection

The UK government should continue to uprate the pensions of British nationals living in the EU in a no-deal Brexit scenario, the House of Lords has told the government.

1 November 2019
By Oliver Rowland

In a letter following a hearing with British in Europe deputy chairman Jeremy Morgan QC last week the House of Lords EU Committee has written to junior Brexit minister James Duddridge saying that:

  • The government should commit to uprating [increasing annually] the pensions of UK nationals living in the EU for as long as they continue to live there
  • The UK should continue to fund healthcare for those living in the EU that it is liable for until such a time as any new arrangements are made replacing this (and as a minimum to the end of next year)
  • Britons who wish or need to return to the UK at any time in the future should be able to do so along with their non-British family members under the same conditions as now
  • Current arrangements for British student fees and student finance for British people who live in the EU at the time of Brexit should continue for 15 years

The latter proposal was raised in the hearing last week as a possible compromise allowing most young people from British families living in other EU countries who have been expecting to go to a British university to do so as planned.

It was stated in the hearing that many families save and plan for many years for their children’s university studies, however in a no-deal there is a risk of people who are not normally residents of the UK, including those with British natinality, having in the future to pay higher overseas student fees.

In the letter the committee also raises concerns about the impact on individuals and businesses if people are unable to aggregate social security contributions made in a number of different EU countries (this may, notably, reduce people's pension rights).

In a written statement the EU Committee says the Lords heard at the hearing about how British citizens abroad in the EU “risk losing access to healthcare, welfare benefits and pensions entitlements, amongst other things, despite the fact that access to these benefits seemed certain when they first moved to the EU”.

It adds that “the committee has also been contacted by a number of individuals who are deeply concerned about what will happen to them and their families after Brexit”.

The letter sent to the government, which expands on these points, can be found in full at this link

The chairman of the EU Committee Lord Morris said in a statement: “UK citizens moved to other EU Member States with the very reasonable belief that the UK’s membership of the EU would mean they could continue to access healthcare, receive an uprated UK State Pension, work and travel freely.

“They could not possibly have predicted that the UK would vote to leave the EU and that their rights to access these benefits would consequently be under threat.

“’Citizens rights’ may sound theoretical, but for the individuals involved it means a very real threat to their livelihoods: people are extremely worried that they will be unable to meet medical bills and other expenses if they stay, but that property prices and other variables would mean they could not afford to move back to the UK even if they wanted to.”

The Lords' letter says that in the event some Britons are nonetheless forced back, then the UK would face large healthcare and welfare expenses for them.

Previous articles

[Paywall/subscribers] Protect Britons in EU better, PM is warned

QC tells Lords UK should do more for Britons in EU

UK lied to me over pension rights 

UK's no-deal report offers no comfort for Britons abroad in the EU

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