The argument that British pensioners living in sunny Spain should receive the UK cold weather allowance has never seemed stronger than during the present prolonged cold spell. But, really, it's not a very strong case to make. A special allowance to pay for air–conditioning in July and August might make more sense. On the whole, British pensioners living elsewhere in Europe are well off when compared with their counterparts in other parts of the world, including those in Commonwealth countries, whose pensions are frozen at the rates which applied when they left Britain. Typically, a pensioner living in South Africa who moved there, say, thirty years ago receives 14 pounds a week although he or she would be entitled to at least 75 pounds if still living in the UK. PP Ministers of successive British governments have refused to acknowledge the injustice of this system even when presented with evidence of the hardship that it often causes. The numbers involved are considerable – about half–a–million people. However a change may be on the way. The South African Alliance of British Pensioners, which has 33'000 members, is taking its case to the London High Court in April. It will use the Human Rights Act to argue that those pensioners living outside Britain who do not receive the full state pension are the victims of discrimination. If they are successful the world–wide financial implications are huge – some 4bn pounds in increased rights, regardless of any retrospective judgement.
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