Is there an expat pensioner who is getting a worse deal than 100-year-old Annie Carr?
Annie, who was born in Sunderland and emigrated to Australia in 1970 to join her only daughter, receives a UK basic state pension that is frozen at just £6.12 a week. Yet if she had stayed in the UK, or emigrated to a country such as Spain or the US, she would be getting up to £107.45 a week. Instead, she is out of pocket by more than £5,000 a year.
One of the oldest is Annie, who is thought to receive the smallest full pension of any of the expats. She was born in July 1911 in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, and lived in that area all her life until she went to Australia on Christmas Day 1970. She worked from home doing hem stitching before she was married, and helped bring up her siblings after her father died. Annie’s husband Edward died in 1964, after which she worked part-time at a department store in Sunderland until she emigrated.
“As I was her only child, and Deborah the only grandchild at that stage, she came to Australia to join us,” says her daughter, Mavis Wilson, who lives in Camden, New South Wales, on the outskirts of Sydney. “At that time the Australian government made up her pension to the Australian level, and after five years she received an Australian pension in her own right.”
She adds: “Mum has always been content with what she got – but that is not to say it was right. When she arrived, I think her pension was about £5. She went back [to the UK] for about nine months in 1972 to help a cousin whose wife had died and was left with a young son. She came back with the present level of £6.12.
“Given the fact that what she gets would buy about three loaves of bread today, you could say the Australian government have kept her for at least the last 20 or 30 years.”
The divide between the pension haves and have-nots widened last year when the UK government restored the link between the basic state pension and earnings. The annual increase in the basic state pension is now protected by what has been described as a “triple lock” – the rise is in line with earnings, prices or a 2.5% increase, whichever is the greatest. As a result, last month saw the amount people receive per week rise by £5.30 to £107.45.
Words: Rupert Jones, The Guardian, 4 May 2012
Photo: Annie Carr moved to Australia in 1970 to be with her only daughter.
* Annie Carr died in February 2016 at the age of 104