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Pensions minister Steve Webb said the decision to focus on the estimated 100,000 people receiving the spouse’s pensions overseas was to highlight “another good feature of the new system”, rather than as an attempt to outflank UKIP.
“What we have noticed is in Britain the number of people getting pensions based on a spouse has been falling,” said the Liberal Democrat MP, “but outside of the UK, the numbers we are paying are actually increasing.”
In an interview with Channel 4 News’s Jackie Long, Mr Webb said that the government had been working on the pension bill for several years. “The reason we are focusing on pensions outside the UK is that they are the ones that are growing.”
“At a time when money is tight we want to focus that money on people who put cash into the British system,” he added.
The changes, which would come into force in April 2016, are based on what an individual themselves put into the system, not their husband or wife’s contributions.