Expat pensioners to require life certificates from next year

An announcement from the Treasury that expatriates will have to prove they are alive every two years in order to claim their pensions has been met with opposition from Brits living abroad.

The government has suggested that by preventing friends and family members from being able to claim the payments after a retiree has died will save the taxpayer £45 million over two years.

As many expats live in countries that do not share information with the UK, it is up to relatives to notify authorities, which is not always happening.

The new measure has been proposed in order to counteract this situation, with a signed and countersigned statement sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) every two years.

Sheila Telford,based in Canada, is particularly against the idea, stating that it will be costly and time consuming.

She is the chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners and lives in a country where expats already have their pension frozen at the time of emigration.

She told the news provider: "The short timespan allocated to getting the certificate back to the DWP is a problem as is the cost involved, particularly for frozen pensioners on a severely diminished income."

Life certificates are already requested by the DWP, but on a random basis as opposed to systematic and only from countries where the information is not automatically sent to the UK.

Popular expat destinations, such as Spain, Australia, New Zealand and the US already have arrangements in place, a spokesman from the DWP said.

Those living in other countries can expect to be sent forms when they reach the age of 75, which they should fill out and return.

Ms Telford has complained that one expat in Canada that she knows of spent the equivalent of £63 getting her life certificate signed and back to the DWP within the required timeframe last year.

Since her pension does not rise with inflation, this equated to more than a week's worth of income from it.

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