In the case of Carson and Others v the United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has held that the UK’s decision to disqualify citizens resident in some countries outside the UK from receiving a state pension up-rated in line with inflation was not illegally discriminatory and not in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (the Convention).
The ECHR indicated that discrimination on the basis of residence could be a breach of the non-discrimination rule in the Convention. However, it commented that discrimination means a failure to treat like cases alike and was hesitant to find the expatriates to be in an analogous position to British pensioners who have chosen to remain in the UK. In any case, the ECHR held that, even if the applicants in this case were in an analogous position, the difference in treatment had objective and reasonable justification.
The ECHR commented that residence is a characteristic that can be changed as a matter of choice and does not require the same high level of protection against difference of treatment based on inherent characteristics such as gender. The DWP has issued a press release following the decision, confirming that it will continue to freeze the basic state pension paid to certain British residents overseas.