UK Expatriate Pensions / Franchise

In an earlier post I mentioned that as a result of some correspondence over a period of time I had been advised by the UK Pension Service that “due to the ongoing postal difficulties in South Africa, we cancelled the Life Certificate Exercise to South Africa in November 2015, therefore payments should have continued as normal.” However my wife recently received a request to provide a life certificate. On querying this in view of the earlier correspondence I was advised that this was an error.

I can understand however that the Pension Service will require some assurance that beneficiaries are still alive and suggested that the use of email or provision of a schedule of required dates could help.  I received the following reply:

“Thank you for your email dated 27 November 2016 and thank you for your suggestions.

“I would like to advise that due to the amount of customers we have, it is not logistically possible to send life certificates by email to all our customers. With each life certificate exercise the customers are chosen at random and life certificates are issued electronically.

“Because of the current situation regarding the South African postal system the Government does not have any plans to issue life certificates to South Africa at present. However, if the situation changes, that decision may be reviewed.”

Given the fact that email has largely superseded mail for correspondence that does not require original documents it is not too easy to understand this or why certificates issued electronically cannot be transmitted more easily electronically even if original documents have to be returned.

In a recent post I mentioned that the next meeting of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen Pensions was to be held on 15 November 2016. I have not seen any minutes or report on this meeting which was only scheduled to last for one hour.

In a not completely unrelated topic I see that the following website explains the UK government approach to removing the current 15 year rule on British citizens overseas voting in parliamentary elections.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-democracy-that-works-for-everyone-british-citizens-overseas

And the following document provides the detail of eligibility, registration etc:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/558280/overseas_electors_policy_statement.pdf

It includes the following:

Proposed system

  1. The Government intends to enfranchise any British citizen2 overseas who was previously resident or registered to vote in the UK.
  2. These changes will not affect the type of election which an overseas elector can vote in. Overseas electors will remain unable to vote in local government elections, elections to the devolved legislatures and elections for police and crime commissioners. The franchise for referendums will continue to be set by Parliament on a case-by-case basis.

2 As now, only British citizens – as defined by the British Nationality Act 1981 – resident abroad and not subject to any incapacity will be entitled to register to vote as overseas electors; no other types of British nationality (for example British National (Overseas), or British subject) will be eligible.

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