Brexit 

Expat pensioners aren't rushing back to UK

Expat pensioners aren't rushing back to UK

There’s little evidence of UK retirees panicking and returning to the UK, according to official data.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the number of UK citizens overseas in receipt of the state pension in European Union countries (excluding Ireland) has held steady post the decision to vote for Brexit.

There are around 247,000 British citizens aged 65 plus living in other EU countries (excluding Ireland), and 85,000 people aged 65 plus from other EU countries (excluding Ireland) living in the UK.

The ONS stated that some media reports have claimed that British pensioners are “rushing to settle in EU countries ahead of Brexit”, while others report pensioners considering returning to the UK because of the falling value of the pound and uncertainty over their rights after the UK leaves the European Union.

“In fact, the number of state pension recipients living in other EU countries has risen steadily over the last five years, continuing a long-term trend,” the government statistician said in a statement.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said that the “mass exodus some had feared has yet to materialize”.

He said: “It may be that those considering returning to the UK are awaiting clarity on how the final deal will affect them, although for many retired expats whether or not their state pension continues to rise in line with the triple-lock will be just one of a number of factors to be considered.

“The value of annual increases in the state pension should not be underestimated, however, and could run into tens of thousands of pounds over the course of a person’s retirement.

 “But ultimately it makes sense for people to hang tight until details of the Brexit deal become clear.”

Many fear that tens of thousands of pensioners living in countries like Spain and France will return to the UK after Brexit, especially if there is no deal which would guarantee state pensions paid to UK expats living in the EU are not frozen.

There are also concerns about the cost of healthcare.

More than half a million British pensioners live in EU countries outside the UK, with most based in Ireland, followed by Spain, France, Italy and Germany. 

Brian Hill, from financial advisers Jones Hill, advised those pensioners wanting to repatriate to be wary of timing the market when repatriating cash.

He said: "Many people want to try to get the best time for doing this, and my advice to them is to set an acceptable band for selling and try to be emotionally detached."

rosie.murray-west@ft.com

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