temporary visa

British pensioners leaving Australia because of increased costs

by Ray Clancy on May 16, 2016

in Australia Immigration

Increasing costs, especially for medical cover, are affecting retired British expats in Australia, with some speaking out about having to leave the country as a result.

Retired British expats in Australia receive their state pensions but they are not increased in line with inflation as they are in other countries such as France and Spain. This means the rate they get is frozen as whatever it was when they left the UK.

According to campaigning group British Pensions in Australia (BPIA) an increasing number cannot afford to stay in Australia and either have to return to Britain or look for a cheaper location such as Singapore to stay close to their families.

man-retired

Spokesman Mike Goodall said that expat pensioners in Australia on a temporary visa face the most financial hardship. To renew the seven year visa they need to show proof of payment for medical insurance premiums. Unlike those with permanent visas, they are not covered under Australia’s Medicare, which is funded by the government.

“I know some who have had to return to the UK because they cannot make ends meet here. Most are on temporary visas, but the group hardest hit is on retirement visas and have an average of 75 years old, which is not the ideal time to look at relocating to another country. Many have to leave the support of family and friends as well as their homes,” added Goodall.

He believes that there are around 3,000 such visa holders in Australia. He has been campaigning with the help of his federal MP to allow them to become permanent residents, giving them access to Medicare.

The subclass 410 was previously available to over 55s seeking a fully self funded retirement in Australia but is no longer open to new applicants. Its holders, who have overseas pensions and private health insurance, want to be allowed to become permanent residents after living in Australia for at least 10 years.

Tony Whalley, 78, who lives in Albany, Western Australia, with his Singaporean wife, Maggie, said that the couple’s annual insurance premium has increased by 123% since they arrived in Australia in 2006. They are planning to relocate to the UK or Singapore as they cannot afford to stay.

The BPIA campaigns for the British government to link pensions paid to all British expats to inflation. Chairman Jim Tilley is urging all British pensioners in Australia to contact the voluntary group to make sure they are getting the correct entitlements and for advice if they are struggling.

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