There’s little evidence of British pensioners living in the EU panicking and returning to the UK, according to official figures from the Office of National Statistics.
These new figures show that the number of UK citizens overseas in receipt of the state pension in European Union countries (excluding Ireland) has remained constant since the leave vote last summer.
There are around 247,000 British citizens aged 65 and over currently living in other EU countries, and 85,000 people aged 65 and over currently living in the UK who are from other EU countries.
The Office for National Statistics has this week questioned some recent media reports around this matter, highlighting some reports have claimed that British pensioners are rushing to settle in EU countries before Brexit happens and others that have claimed that pensioners are considering returning to the UK because of the falling value of the pound and uncertainty over their post-Brexit rights.
Contradicting these claims, a spokesperson for the ONS said that the number of state pension recipients living in other EU countries has risen steadily over the last five years, continuing a long-term trend.
Tom Selby, a senior analyst at AJ Bell, was quoted this week in the FT:
“The mass exodus some had feared has yet to materialize”, he said. “It may be that those considering returning to the UK are waiting for clarity on how the final deal will affect them, although for many retired expats whether their state pension continues to rise in line with the triple-lock will be just one of many 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 hold fire until details of the Brexit deal become clear.”
There is definitely a fear that tens of thousands of pensioners currently living in countries like Spain and France will return to the UK after Brexit, especially if there is no deal struck to guarantee that 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.