Sir David Davis concerned that pension reforms could penalise mothers


As reported in the Telegraph;

“The growth in internet romances may be partly behind the rise in foreign women who are receiving state pensions despite never paying tax in the UK, it was claimed.

A new law will be announced in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday intended to close the loophole and ensure that only those who contribute through the National Insurance system can receive a British state pension.

However, critics of the reforms raised concerns that some women who leave Britain with their husbands and have children abroad could be penalised as a result of the tighter rules.

Experts warned that the new arrangements would be a “bureaucratic nightmare” to enforce.

According to government figures, taxpayers are funding the pensions of some 220,000 people living outside the UK, half of whom are foreign citizens who have never set foot in Britain.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of pensioners overseas receiving a married person’s pension rose by 17 per cent.

A government source said the increase in internet match-making websites may be partly responsible.

“Technology facilitates relationships across the continents in a way that wasn’t the case 20 years ago,” the source said. There are “more people using the net and pairing up” and this is likely to be having some impact on the figures, the source added.

The government said the rise in spouses overseas receiving the pension was also due to people living longer, as well as a legal change that meant men have also been eligible for the payments since 2010. Emigration was likely to have been an additional factor.

David Davis, the senior Conservative MP, and former party chairman, said he was concerned that the reforms could penalise full-time mothers who moved overseas with their husbands to keep their families together.

“It is vital the government doesn’t find itself carrying out accidental, unintended social engineering in its understandable enthusiasm to save money,” Mr Davis, the MP for Haltemprice and Howden, said.

“In particular we must not penalise decent conventional families trying to do the best for their children in their advancing years.”

Steve Webb, the pension’s minister, conceded that a group of women who moved overseas with their partners before having children would lose out. Men in the same situation who are full-time fathers would also be affected.

However, stay-at-home mothers who care for their children in the UK will receive their own pensions and be treated as if they had been in paid employment with National Insurance “credits”.

Mr Webb said: “Overwhelmingly, stay-at-home mums are the principal beneficiaries of the single-tier pension.”

Those who are “living in another country and then have a family there” are an “obscure” group who should be looking to their new home states for support, he said. “I think we are protecting the people we would want to protect.””