Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How Brexit is buggering up lives - episode #1

I thought, given I'm a member of quite a few EU national support/information groups, it might be interesting to those of you who aren't to see some concrete examples of how Brexit is causing utter and unexpected chaos in the lives of normal people. As I assume I will feel like sharing more than one example of this, I've numbered the above blog post as #1.

So today I am reading through my Facebook feed over coffee, easing myself into the morning as usual when I come across the following scenario. I will anonymize these as knowing the individuals involved is superfluous.

Today's lucky couple are an English man and his French wife in their late 60s. They met and married over 30 years ago. They lived in the UK from the age of 35 - 60 where they raised a family, him working full-time, her part-time to look after their kids. When they retired early, they moved to a little house in France where they have now been living for ten years on his small pension of £10K a year. Since Brexit, the pound has devalued to a point where they can no longer live on his pension in France because they have no money left after paying their mortgage, heating, taxes etc so they feel forced to sell up their dream retirement home and return to the UK because of the exchange rate. They had no intention of returning here so have no property here.

Now here's the shocker (as if the first part wasn't enough). On their return, the 25 years she spent in the UK doesn't count towards obtaining Permanent Residence (it's the same as in this case) as she left again for over six months resetting her 'life in the UK' clock to zero. Of course, given she did this in 2007, she wasn't to know that this would count against her. Once EU immigrants are treated as rest-of-the-world ones are now, her husband will need to reach a specific earning threshold to sponsor a spouse. At the moment that figure is £18600. Given her husband is now retired on just over half that, he doesn't earn enough to bring her in, so although she can perhaps come till Brexit happens, she won't have clocked up the five years necessary for obtaining Permanent Residency by 2019. Having UK citizen kids, grandchildren and an English husband don't count either (as we saw yesterday) so she'll not be allowed to return here permanently with her husband. So already their retirement is completely buggered by losing their home in France but now she realizes that when he returns, she potentially cannot, and, of course, she has no French pension, nowhere to live and her family is in England.

Until the government realizes that the time spent before the break, when people could not foresee this great a change, counts, lives will continue to be devastated. Is this how we really want to be treating married couples nearing their 70s?

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