State pension: Thousands to miss out on £5,000 fund despite global cost of living crisis

Pensioners sit on a bench overlooking water

In March 2022, there were 480,000 overseas pensioners who did not receive the annual increase in state pension payments.

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 27/07/2023

- 13:02

Updated: 27/07/2023

- 14:26

Pensioners living overseas continue to be frozen out of annual Triple Lock uprating

Thousands continue to miss out on annual state pension uprating covered by the Triple Lock guarantee, due to living overseas in a country which has not agreed a reciprocal agreement with the UK.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that as of March 2022, there were 480,000 overseas pensioners who did not receive the annual increase in state pension payments.

Some 84 per cent (403,200) of these overseas pensioners live in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Where the UK Government has pledged to honour the Triple Lock guarantee for 2024/25, the September Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation figure will be highly anticipated for its role in determining the state pension rise the following April.

Pensioner sat on a wall looking out on the sea

The DWP estimate that uprating the state pension in frozen countries would cost £860million in 2023/24.


The state pension triple lock guaruntees pensions increase each year by 2.5 per cent, inflation, or average earnings.

While inflation is expected to be the highest figure of the three this year, even a rise of 2.5 per cent would give people on the basic state pension an increase from £156.20 per week to £160.10.

But thousands overseas on a frozen pension could still be in line to receive as little as £65 each week.

This perceived injustice of frozen state pensions was raised in the House of Lords earlier this month, when Lord Davies of Brixton spoke on the 75th anniversary of the Windrush Generation.

Lord Davies explained: “Recipients in some countries have increases each year in line with those granted to pensioners in the UK, but those in other countries, totalling half a million, do not - their pensions are frozen at the date they moved abroad and in real terms their state pension falls each year.

“The impact is substantial. Simplifying somewhat, the basic state pension is currently £156 a week, but over half of those with a frozen pension are receiving £65 a week or less. That is lost income each year of £5,000 or more.”

Lord Davies of Brixton

UK Parliament

Lord Davies lamented that such a system created an “arbitrary winners-and-losers approach to making increases in UK state pensions for those who choose to retire abroad”.

Focusing on those with a Windrush heritage, Lord Davies highlighted that British pensioners in all but two Caribbean countries have frozen state pensions.

He said: “Those in Barbados and Jamaica are the lucky ones, but there are 300 people with frozen pensions in Antigua and Barbuda, 1,300 in Trinidad and Tobago, 900 in Grenada, 800 in St Lucia, and hundreds more spread across other Caribbean islands.

“The injustice of the policy is clear, but the Government and past Governments have hidden behind the need for so-called reciprocal agreement - we pay increases to our pensioners in countries only if it pays increases to its pensioners in the UK.”


A Thames Clipper arrives at the Port Of Tilbury with 100 NHS workers and 100 people with Windrush connections to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush on 22 June 2023.


Lord Davies also highlighted that “for many years” successive Governments have consistently refused to negotiate any more such agreements, leading to the “entirely arbitrary distinctions we see today”.

He concluded: “Members of the Windrush generation were invited to live and work in the UK to help run Britain, and they devoted their working lives to this country. It is manifestly wrong to punish them so severely simply because they have returned to their countries of birth for retirement.”

The DWP estimate that uprating the state pension in frozen countries would cost £860million in 2023/24, £940million in 2024/25, and a further £930million in 2025/26.

The DWP has estimated the total cost between now and 2028 would be nearly £4.6billion.

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