Why is my UK pension frozen

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In the Lawn Bowls Club, English pensioners push a neat ball. Everything "very British", we are in the middle of Spain, in Andalusia. But the idyll could soon come to an end: Brexit will change her life dramatically.

From: Stefan Schaaf

Status: 06/11/2017 | archive

They are still serene, but their English pensions could be frozen in the future and access to the public health system in Spain could become impossible. And so the dream of old age under palm trees is in danger.

"Our main concern is health care. If the EU were to stop access to the host country's public system, then 90 percent of us would have to go back to England. We cannot afford private insurance."

Alan Bloome, retiree

Christine Rowlands

In the club we also meet Christine Rowlands, leader of the Tories in Andalusia, the conservative party of England. Christine is not on the best of terms with her boss Theresa May: hardly any British abroad support Brexit anyway, you feel left alone.

"It looks like a hard Brexit. But what is a hard Brexit? A few facts would help us. I don't want everything to be explained to us in detail. Just a few pieces of information. That would be really helpful for ours Members. "

Christine Rowlands, Conservatives abroad

We are in Mijas on the Costa del Sol - a postcard idyll. Half of the approximately 80,000 inhabitants are foreigners; 11,000 Brits make up the majority.

A lot of English is spoken, which benefits the local economy. But the poor exchange rate from the pound to the euro is already spoiling the appetite of many.

The prospects for the British living here are darkening, for example for Kitt Hoggs. He has been working as a tree doctor for a long time. His clients: English homeowners. But now Brexit changes everything.

"Somehow I have to cope with the fact that my customers are decreasing because more and more English people are leaving Spain."

Kitt Hoggs, tree specialist

With his team, Kitt fights pests on carob trees or palm trees; the mostly British owners pay well for it. Now there is an invisible enemy: the growing uncertainty among Spain's English: What will happen to property and taxes after Brexit, do you need a visa?

Juan Carlos Maldonado

Back to the city of Mijas: A look into the town hall shows that the foreigners made this community rich. The mayor believes the threatened emigration of the English is an earthquake for the town.

"That would of course have very negative consequences for us if a large part of the population were to leave us. The English contribute to our economy and to the preservation of jobs."

Juan Carlos Maldonado, Mayor of Mijas

Such housing estates are located around Mijas - the Brexit shock can also be felt here. Since the referendum in Spain, the number of apartments and houses sold by the British has increased by 16 percent. Gloomy prospects on the Costa del Sol.

If you don't want to go back to England, you can take a different route - that of going to the language school. More and more Britons are registering for Spanish classes. Spanish citizenship can only be obtained with sufficient knowledge of the country and language. Teacher Anne Hérnandez, a native of Britain, has lived in Spain for more than 30 years. She knows: Spanish is not always easy, but it is even more difficult to hand in your English passport.

"This is particularly difficult for the elderly. For them it is like betraying their ancestors who fought for Great Britain."

Anne Hernández, Spanish teacher

"I would much rather apply for dual citizenship, but so far the Spanish government has not allowed it. I would like to have both passports. But if that doesn't work, I'll do my best to become Spanish."

Owen Davis, Spanish student

Tree doctor Kitt on the way to the next house: palm trees are to be disinfected there. What about his company, his work permit? Kitt is outwardly relaxed, he hopes for the famous "common sense". 300,000 English people are registered in Spain, unofficially it could be up to a million. What will happen to them?

"If there should be a hard Brexit, it will of course be harder. But then I'll be Spaniard. Quite simply. I'll stay here."

Kitt Hoggs, tree specialist

The Brexit negotiations should last two years, two years of agonizing uncertainty for Kitt Hoggs and many others. For the English in Andalusia, these are no longer good prospects.