UK Politics

Autumn Statement: More overseas pensioners must prove they are alive

A retired couple
People who have retired abroad face more paperwork

More British pensioners living abroad will be forced to prove they are alive in order to keep their state pensions, the government has said.

The Treasury says it loses millions every year by paying pensions to friends and relatives of the deceased.

The Department for Work and Pensions sends "life certificates" to those who have retired abroad, which they have to get countersigned.

But only 14% of overseas pensioners currently have the certificates.

By sending the forms out to more pensioners more often, the Treasury aims to bring in an extra £45m over two years, according to background documents published with Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

The document says: "The government will increase its activity on life certificates to ensure that state pension payments to pensioners living abroad are being made correctly, to shorten the period in which payment may continue erroneously after the person is deceased."

The new push on life certificates will only apply to countries such as France which do not automatically share the information with the UK.

A Treasury source told The Daily Telegraph: "We currently pay a bit of money to people who are dead, and we don't know they are dead, and their families keep the money."