Monthly Archives: December 2016

Take the best of 2016 and look forward to 2017

new-year-countdown

Already out of date

This was going to be a post lamenting how bad 2016 was and how we can’t wait to see the back of it. And in many ways it was.

Too many notable people dying, lots of very talented Brits included. But also good people that we may have personally known. Here at Brits in Toronto we lost some close family this year.

A disaster of a US election filled with scandal, hate, bigotry and issues that will be remembered for a long time.

Wars and terrorist attacks. Natural disasters. Plane crashes.

And don’t even get us started on Brexit.

What a year 2016 was.

But, then we thought about the good things too. Not the good things that you read in the media — because, let’s face it, it’s scant — but the good things that happen in everyday life.

Maybe you got a new job? Got married? Bought a home? Made some great memories with family and friends? Went on a nice trip? Feel healthy and in good shape?

We’re so often inundated with the bad news that we overlook the good stuff and that’s what we should take from 2016. Let’s all hope that 2017 will bring more happiness, good fortune and joy into the world.

And if we don’t check in before Saturday night, wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.

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James and I go to London

james-uk

The “constructive boardroom meeting” stock photo actor auditions were very competitive this year

(London, England that is, not London, Ontario. Well played.)

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and a Director of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on Brexit and pensions in Canada. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

In my previous article, I introduced you to my friend James (real person, name changed). James is an octogenarian who emigrated from the UK many years ago, and retired in Ontario in 1998. He is what is known as a “frozen” pensioner.

Now, I know he lives in a cold part of Canada, but that is not why he is “frozen”! No, James is one of 144,000 UK pensioners living in Canada who do not receive an annual increase to their UK state pension — whereas pensioners living in the UK, the European Union, and several disparate countries around the world do receive the annual increase.

This is known as the UK “frozen pension” policy. He still cannot understand why, if you live south of the Niagara Falls (in the US) then you get the annual increase, but if you live 500 yards north of the Falls (in Canada) then you don’t.

When I showed him the “Pension Erosion” chart (see below), then he marked on it (in blue) the year in which he retired, and then realized that he had received £25,000 less than his peers in the UK … even though he has made the same National Insurance Contributions as them, and had earned a “full” UK State Pension.

uk-state-pension-erosion

James marked the blue bit

So, James packed his bags, said goodbye to his wife and set off for the UK — and I said goodbye to my wife and went with him. Somebody had to carry his bags!

james-uk

“G-4?” “Hey! You sunk my battleship!”

In the space of eight days, we spoke with 24 Parliamentarians (Members of Parliament and Peers), the UK media, and several other pension organisations. We showed everybody the Pension Erosion chart, and there came a new realization of just how badly UK pensioners living abroad in countries like Australia and Canada are being treated by the UK government.

For example, for those UK pensioners living in Canada who are 85 or over, the accumulated “Pension Erosion” amounts to £669 million. For those UK pensioners living beneath the poverty line, the Canadian government subsidizes them, which comes out of Canadian taxpayers’ pockets, rather than the UK government’s. How can that be right, or fair?

What we learned from our trip to London is that the main issue challenging UK Members of Parliament is Brexit.

Nobody knows what is going to happen with respect to the 488,700 UK pensioners living in the European Union (EU). The table below shows the number of UK pensioners living in each country within the EU.

uk-pensioners-living-in-the-eu

That’s a lot of UK pensioners scattered across the EU

It is not clear whether these pensioners will continue to receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension once the Brexit negotiations have been completed, since the UK government only increases UK State Pensions annually where, “they are legally obliged to.”

Post-Brexit, if the UK is neither part of the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA), then the UK government is no longer legally obliged to annually increase the UK State Pension for UK pensioners living in the EU.

The Telegraph reported in May 2016 that over a 20-year-period, UK pensioners living in the EU would be, “£50,000 poorer.”

Many of the UK pensioners living in the EU fear that they will be a “pawn” in the Brexit negotiations, and their annual UK State Pension increases will be a “bargaining chip.” If this is the case — and their UK State Pension is no longer increased each year — then, for many of them, they will have no option but to sell up and return home to the UK.

If all UK pensioners living in the EU were to return home to the UK, then the additional cost to the NHS has been estimated to be £2 billion per year.

In talking to one MP, we found out that the rural areas may offer the cheapest housing but these houses are in remote locations, far away from medical facilities. NHS hospitals, which are already stretched, will become even more so due to inadequate staffing levels.

Every day seems to bring yet another story of how the UK NHS system is one step closer to breaking point. Pensioners tend to be the greatest users of medical resources, so, if they were to return (from the EU) in significant numbers, they would stretch the NHS to beyond breaking point.

James and I came back from London with new vigour to try and help the UK pensioners living in the EU, by setting up a new petition. We wanted to let Brits in Toronto readers know that the International Consortium of British Pensioners have developed their own petition.

This petition is designed mostly for the nearly half a million UK pensioners living in the EU — but also applies to the 144,000 UK pensioners living in Canada who already have their UK state pension “frozen” — who may lose the annual indexation to their UK State Pension as part of the Brexit negotiations.

We also ask your readers to review the House of Commons Petition. British citizens and UK residents can sign this petition, so please sign this if you can, and ask your family and friends in the UK to sign this petition as well. There are currently just over 4,000 signatures. At 10,000 signatures, the UK government will respond, and if there are 100,000 signatures, then the UK government will debate the petition. Please sign this petition before it expires on 25th January 2017.

We would also like to encourage readers to join in the battle and become members of the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners.

We would also like to wish all Brits in Toronto readers a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2017.

Nigel can be reached via e-mail at nigel AT britishpensions DOT COM.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Josh Bill

josh-bill

“Alright mate, I’m Josh and we can teach you to knock a ball about, not for a larf, mind you, but to earn some good wedge doing it for real, like, maybe in the Prem or MLS, who knows mate?”

Josh Bill is a special Successful Brit in Toronto on two counts:

  1. He has two first names and we’ve never had that before, and;
  2. He will have the honour of holding this coveted spot as the last interview of 2016.

If he looks familiar it’s because we recently featured a job posting from his football academy looking to hire a full-time coach. Great opportunity.

A man of few words, we caught up with Josh to get his tweet-friendly answers to the following questions …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

When I first moved to Toronto I was only 19-years-old; after my dreams of being a football player came to a halt in the UK I wanted to become a football coach. My passion was always to set up my own academy and I knew this could be possible in Canada.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I was scouted by a Canadian company in the UK, they offered me the job and I couldn’t turn the opportunity down.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Leaving family behind was the worse experience. That’s always hard to do. But to pursue your dreams I felt I had to take the plunge.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

Most of my friends/employees are English and we have met other English people from playing football over here in Toronto or bumping into them in the pubs.

Me and my girlfriend always go to a British store based in downtown Oakville to buy home comfort foods such as Walkers Crisps, Branston Pickle etc!

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

It’s the best thing I have done moving to this country — the Canadian people are so friendly and helpful to make you feel comfortable living in their country.

Also it’s given me a great opportunity to run a successful business and employ my fellow Englishmen giving them the same opportunity that I had.

Thanks Josh! If you want to give him a shout, here’s his Twitter account.

ADP Soccer Academy are hiring for a full-time coach. Know anyone?

adp-soccer-academy

Think you can teach people how to knock these in the back of the net? Might be a full-time job in it for you

Now, this is a superb opportunity for someone who likes football and thinks they can teach others to play the beautiful game. Paid too. Yes. A full-time job kicking a football around.

Josh Bill, Director and Founder of ADP Soccer Academy in Oakville and Mississauga contacted Brits in Toronto. Here’s what he said:

“I moved to Toronto three-four years ago and have recently set up my own soccer academy business in Oakville and Mississauga. We have six full-time staff who I have flown over from the UK and employed, myself being from Stoke-on-Trent and some others spread around the UK.

“We also have former Stoke City Premier League player Andy Wilkinson working for us.

“We are looking for a full-time member of staff to coach in our academy. They must have coaching qualifications. Can you help?”

Job done, Josh.

The official title is Soccer Head Coach and the salary range is $30,000-$35,000.

If you or anyone out there in Internet land are interested in the position, please e-mail Josh at josh AT adpsoccer DOT COM or dog and bone him at 905-276-0676.

Please mention Brits in Toronto if you do …  and good luck!