Brexit and Britain’s older expats - what are the financial implications?

Since the Brexit vote on 23 June last year, there has been widespread uncertainty about the future, and what Brexit will mean for Britain and its citizens. 

Following the trigger of Article 50 in March, Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap General Election in June offers British people a democratic opportunity to forge Brexit’s path. But, what will that be? Ultimately, the potential outcome of Britain’s negotiations with Brussels is largely unknown.

A fairly central aspect of the Brexit negotiation will concern the movement of British expatriates and European citizens living in Britain. While the general direction has been agreed upon by negotiating parties - to guarantee the citizens’ rights - this fails to offer more than a crumb of comfort to the parties concerned. Here we are dealing with people’s lives - many of which have become fully intertwined with their new country of residence; there are real life complications which mean this issue is far from straightforward.

There are currently 4.5 million Britons living abroad - 1.3 million of which reside in Europe. Former attorney general Dominic Grieve argues that if free movement fails to be achieved in Brexit negotiations, it could make British expatriates living in the EU illegal immigrants overnight; it has led to expats being labelled as being caught in ‘Brexit no man’s land’.

A primary source of concern is the future of older British expats. The final direction of Brexit, and the value of the pound on the world financial stage holds the key to these people’s livelihoods - their pensions and healthcare. At the moment, it is the sheer uncertainty that is most uncomfortable for these people who made the decision to retire away from Britain.

British expats living in Spain have spoken of their plight - that they are ‘living in fear’. Pensioner Josephine Sykes voiced her worries about healthcare, and not being able to afford care if Brexit goes the wrong way for her.

It is also a worrying situation for older people living outside the EU like 93-year-old world war two veteran Anne Puckridge, whose pension was frozen when she moved to Canada in 2001. Because of the fall in the pound and general uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Anne is currently left with little more than what she needs to survive day to day - an existence a far cry from the comfortable lifestyle she envisaged.

Another concern for those British expats with family in the UK is the potential for Brexit to lead to higher airfares due to new air service agreements that will have to be put in place, meaning that family visits could become more prohibitive.

Overall, the vision of a happy and trouble-free retirement for older British expats has been thrown into turmoil. With the uncertainty surrounding the pound, people may turn to foreign investment opportunities. Companies such as ETX Capital offer people the opportunity to trade easily in foreign markets - potentially offering another source of income.