The Sun berates “Britain’s Bonkers Benefits” for paying £92 million to expatriates. I was surprised by that figure, because of course Britain pays far more to expatriates than that: the largest benefit by far is the pension, and the Sun has dropped it from their tally. “Most won’t begrudge a state pension to anyone who has paid their dues before retiring abroad.” Just so: and since Attendance Allowance and Winter Fuel Payment are mainly there for pensioners, and Bereavement Benefits are clearly paid for from contributions or ‘dues’, presumably most people won’t begrudge those either. According to the DWP Tabulation Tool, there were 1,207,660 benefit claimants abroad at the last available date (May 2012), and 1,186,250 were for State Pension alone. The Sun also complains that the expats ‘no longer pay into the tax pot.” That’s the problem with these pesky pensioners. Unfortunately, if they were in Britain, they wouldn’t do a lot for the Treasury coffers, either.
This comes at a time when benefits paid in Britain for foreign citizens. We could agree a system with our partner countries where countries support the people who live there, in which case the bill for foreign residents would increase; or we can agree a system where everyone is supported by their home nation, in which case the bill for expats is going to increase. At present Britain seems to do rather well out of the arrangements.