Money worries tempt OAPs to up sticks for new life abroad
PENSIONERS are leaving Scotland in record numbers to escape escalating taxes and inflation, new figures have revealed.
The number of Scots claiming their pensions from abroad has soared by almost a third in the past decade to 95,000.
Australia tops the table as the most popular retirement destination, with Ireland and Spain also popular.
The number moving abroad is expected to rise to 300,000 by 2050, and overseas property experts believe the growing trend is the result of increasing living costs, primarily associated with the council tax.
Owen Small, of Overseas Emigration, Scotland's only registered emigration agent, said: "We've seen a big increase in the number of pensioners looking to emigrate. A large proportion say it's purely down to finance.
"Many people who contact us are fed up with Scotland. They say the country is going down the tubes and that they don't see any future here."
One recent poll found that a third of those reaching retirement age planned to move abroad, and financial worries are believed to be one of the most influential factors in making the move.
Nick Marr, of the overseas property specialists homesgofast.com, said: "In my experience, pensioners are no longer prepared to settle in this country and leave the money to their grandchildren.
"In sunny climates, people tend to enjoy better health and, of course, they don't have to worry about heating bills and the like.
"The chances are the average wage will be lower than in the UK and that inevitably means the cost of living will be less."
A spokesman for Saga, the holiday company for over-50s, confirmed the rising trend. He said: "We have found a lot more people who are buying both holiday homes and thinking of moving abroad permanently. It is a growing trend and one that we expect to continue. A combination of different factors are making more and more people move abroad, such as lifestyle and weather.
"I don't think that people moving to Spain are becoming tax exiles, because they will still pay taxes over there, but I suppose they are different kinds of taxes.
"In this country, people often feel put upon and are looking for a brighter, less stressful life, so they move abroad."
Pensioners will be a key voting block in next week's Scottish elections, with parties trying to ease the tax burden on what has been called the "grey vote".
One fifth of Scotland's population is of pensionable age, and the majority of them vote - unlike the 18-to-24 age group.
The Tories plan to halve pensioners' council tax bills, while Labour wants to create more property bands and subsidise water charges for pensioners.
The SNP says it will scrap taxation for 500,000 pensioners by introducing a local income tax. The Liberal Democrats are also offering a local income tax that will mean lower rates for the elderly.
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP's deputy leader, said: "Scotland's older people deserve our respect and our support.
"That's why the SNP are committed to abolishing the unfair council tax and putting money back in the pockets of those who need it most."
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that senior citizens could still claim their pensions from overseas but said: "Before moving abroad, people should contact the Pension Service and tell us the date they are leaving the UK and whether the move is temporary or permanent."
WE'RE MOST FOOTLOOSE
A REPORT published by the Institute of Public Policy Research recently found there are more Britons living abroad than foreign nationals living in the UK.
It also showed the number of Britons buying property abroad has risen by 50 per cent in three years. The study concluded the British are the most footloose people in the world. Not only do more British live abroad than any other nationality, they are also more spread out.
There are 41 countries with more than 10,000 British living there and another 71 countries with more than 1,000. The levels of emigration are now back to those last seen in the late-1950s and early 1960s, when the "ten-pound Poms" left in their droves for Australia, enticed by subsidised travel and settlement.
They are even higher than the last great exodus before the First World War, when the outflow was running at 300,000 per annum and more young men were leaving the country every year than died on the battlefields of Europe.
The latest research shows that far from being pensioners looking for a retirement in the sun, many leaving today are young and highly skilled. Four in ten emigrating in 2004 were in managerial or professional occupations.
The second-largest group, particularly in Europe, are the middle-aged, retired or semi-retired, who are investing in foreign property.
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