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A UK pensioner living in South Africa has won new hope for half a million older people who have been denied increases in their state pension. Annette Carson, who moved to South Africa when she retired, has been fighting the Government through the courts for several years and was last week granted leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
Back in June this year, the Court of Appeal rejected her claim that the Government was discriminating against older people living abroad by refusing to uprate their pensions in line with inflation. Under pension rules, pensioners who move abroad are entitled to continue receiving their basic state pension; however, people living in many parts of the world do not get their pension increased each year in line with the raises announced here. Lawyers for Carson had argued that the Social Security Benefits Uprating Regulations were being operated in a manner that amounted to unlawful discrimination, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Government has conceded in the past that it was "illogical" that pensioners living in Europe and the US do get the increase, while others, such as those living in South Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, do not. However, ministers argue that it would be too expensive to upgrade all pensions. According to Graham Chrystie, Carson's solicitor and a partner in the pensions and employee benefits department at Thomas Eggar, the plight of up to 500,000 "worsens by the day due to their lack of a decent pension". He added: "The overseas pensioners are at the bottom of the pile and hopefully UK pensioners who had recently experienced pension cuts would support these Britons overseas, whose plight is often desperate."