Policymakers must devise “fair and workable rules” on what UK health and social care services Britons living abroad are entitled to, a think-tank said this week.
The Institute for Public Policy Research said clearer rules on entitlement were crucial to minimise the risk of destitution and allay fears that UK health and social care services would be overwhelmed by returning older people.
Earlier this year, Community Care revealed thousands of people who had retired to live abroad in countries such as Spain were not registered with the authorities in those countries and were not entitled to services.
Report authors Catherine Drew and Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah warned that if current emigration trends continue, the UK’s overseas pensioner population may rise to 3.3 million by 2050.
Drew, who conducted research in the Costa Del Sol, said: “Few of the younger retirees have thought about forward-planning and so have not made arrangements for obtaining services.”
For a significant number of people, a place in the sun had turned into a nightmare, she said.
“People do need to take more personal responsibility for their needs, but local and central government could get more involved with lowcost airlines to help inform people about the need to plan properly for living in another country.”
Jacqui Morrissey, head of Age Concern’s European and International Unit, said: “We welcome this research but more needs to be done in this area, particularly on the realities of older people faced with health and social care abroad.
“Local authorities could make planning easier for individuals by ensuring they can start the process before they return to the UK.”
UK expatriates: the facts
● 5.5 million Britons live abroad and 500,0000 live overseas for part of the year.
● A British national emigrates every three minutes.
● 112 countries are estimated to have a population of more than 1,000 Britons.
● The top three destinations are Australia (1.3 million), Spain (760,000) and the US (680,000).
● About 1 million British pensioners live abroad.
● Estimated value of UK pensions paid overseas by 2050 is £6.5bn
● Brits Abroad: Mapping the Scale and Nature of British Emigration
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