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  • Writer's pictureDom Tuffrey

IN THE NEWS - "I live in Thailand on frozen state pension – it means I can’t afford a doctor"

Anthony Peters, 79, says he has had to stop his regular hospital appointments to cut costs 

Anthony Peters moved to Thailand 10 years ago to be with his wife May (Photo: Anthony Peters)


Senior world reporter

May 2, 2024


A British retiree in Thailand whose UK state pension has been “frozen” has said he has stopped seeing a doctor for his health problems in order to save money.


Anthony Peters, 79, worked in his family business in West Sussex before retiring and moving to Thailand in 2019, where he lives with his wife May in the central province of Lopburi, famed for its ancient Buddhist temples and wild monkeys.


When he began claiming his state pension aged 70, it was frozen at £614 a month. Combined with his private pension, he and his wife are living on just under £1,000 a month.


At first, his monthly income was enough to live comfortably in the east Asian nation, which generally enjoys much cheaper day-to-day costs than the UK. But Mr Peters said he is now losing spending power, as inflation and a rise in living costs mean he is having to make sacrifices to keep his head above water.


“I’ve had to compromise on what I would like to do, and I just make sure that all our bills are paid,” he told i. “Day-to-day, we live quite a modest lifestyle.”


With no medical insurance, seeing a doctor, and getting prescription medication roughly every three months for his high blood pressure and problems with his liver and kidney, would cost about £200 a time.


“I had been attending a government hospital regularly until about a year ago, when I could no longer afford the appointments,” Mr Peters said. “I’m [now] self medicating, I suppose… Trying to be careful with what I eat, what I do.


“These are the sorts of choices you have to make due to this measly policy, I mean, it’s undemocratic.”


Mr Peters is referring to the frozen UK state pension for people living overseas.


He is one of about half a million British citizens living abroad who do not benefit from the state pension increases those living in the UK receive via the triple lock, which means payments rise each year by whichever is highest out of wage growth, inflation or 2.5 per cent.


Campaigners have fought for decades for a change in the policy, which they brand as unfair and unjust.


Mr Peters – who ran a firm making motor accessories in Stedham – believes the extra money he is missing out on in state pension – which increased by 8.5 per cent this month for British citizens living in the UK and EU – would “make a considerable difference” to his life.


“It would give me a fair amount of extra spending money, and I would be able to afford to do more things like going out or going to the occasional concert,” he said.


“I’d be able to do more of the things that I promised my wife 10 years ago that I haven’t been able to do.”


Mr Peters said other expats he has come across from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands all receive annual increases to their government pensions, and he was the odd one out.


“That’s why I consider state pensioners from the UK as the paupers of Europe,” he added.


A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our priority is ensuring every pensioner receives the financial support to which they are entitled.


“We understand that people move abroad for many reasons and we provide clear information on gov.uk about how this can impact their finances.


“The Government’s policy on the uprating of the UK state pension for recipients living overseas is a longstanding one of more than 70 years and we continue to uprate state pensions overseas where there is a legal requirement to do so."


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