Shattered Dreams? Older British People Returning from Spain KELLY HALL, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM CHARLES BETTY, UNIVERSITY OF NORTHAMPTON Our Research My PhD – Collaboration with Age Concern España. Interviews with 20 older vulnerable households in Spain - 7 were returning to the UK. Charles’ PhD – Focus on older British people returning to the UK (triggers, experiences, support, barriers). Year 1. Early observations and findings. Very little research on return migration. Older British People in Spain International retirement migration to Spain; approx 100,000 British nationals receive state pension in Spain. ‘Older British people in Spain’ – not a clearly identifiable group: Definitions of ‘old age’ (55+, state pension age?) Definitions of ‘migrant’ – Many only spend part of the year in Spain The Economic Crisis - Headlines Returning from Spain – Headlines Our Research - The Economic Downturn Exchange rate fluctuations. Many living on basic state pension with few savings. Higher living costs – food, utility bills, community fees, prescription charges. Lifestyles changes: “I don't eat out as much as I used to”. “I am not able to go on tours which I love because I enjoy seeing parts of Spain.” Support Networks: Unable to visit family/friends in the UK. “I can only afford to see my grandchildren once a year” Destitution in Spain: Use food banks at Church/Age Concern. Returning for Financial Help Return to access welfare support - pension credit, housing support. ...But weak Spanish housing market – financial barriers. “I wouldn’t be able to afford to go back [to the UK]. And certainly not into where I want to go because they are very, very expensive, so I am afraid I will have to spend my last years here”. To Stay or To Go? “When we came to Spain we had a wonderful lifestyle. The cost of living was cheaper than in the UK…we didn’t seem to be spending as much money as we were in the UK. Now the rate of exchange of the pound against the euro has plunged, and therefore we are financially worse off especially since 2009… We have talked a lot about returning to the UK, but we do not really want to. We own our apartment and I wonder whether we would get back what we paid for it years ago. Even if we could sell the apartment would we have sufficient financial capital to buy in the UK?” Returning for Health and Social Care Return following a decline in health or health crisis. Lack of after care when leaving hospital. Lack of suitable care homes in Spain. Only available to those with financial resources to pay. Returning for Support No family in Spain – need informal care and support. Isolation and loneliness Following death of partner Friends die or return to the UK But lose touch with family and friends in the UK… ‘I am trying to come to terms with the loss of my wife. We had been married for fifty years. I don’t know how I am going to cope...Perhaps I ought to be thinking about returning to the UK. I communicate with my family there occasionally; however I am not sure if I would be welcome. I think we have lost touch with each other.’ Problems Returning to the UK Habitual Residency Test. Welfare support and care not immediately available. Housing - price rises. Family and friends have ‘moved on’. Relocating in old age is emotionally, physically and financially traumatic! Forward Planning? Financial planning difficult in economic crisis. Lack of preparation around old age care – “it won’t happen to me” attitude. Few retired British Migrants speak Spanish - leads to problems negotiating bureaucracy and accessing support in Spain. On going reliance on the UK – UK health/welfare system - UK based support in Spain Concluding Comments Evidence suggests there are large numbers of older British people returning from Spain. Numbers are increasing since the economic crisis. Return of ‘choice’ – pre-planned. Return of ‘necessity’ – no plan. Occurs when can no longer live independently and no support systems in place in Spain. Should the UK export benefits and financial support to British nationals abroad? References ACKERS, L., and DWYER P., 2002. Senior citizenship? Retirement, migration and welfare in the European Union. Bristol: The Policy Press. AGE CONCERN, 2007. When the sun sets on retirement abroad. Age Concern Conference, London, 17 May 2007. COSTA DEL SOL NEWS (2012) Expat homelessness on the rise; Costa del Sol News, Aug 2012, No 799. COLDRON, K., and ACKERS, L., 2009. European citizenship, individual agency and the challenge to social welfare systems: a case study of retirement migration in the European Union. Policy and Politics, 37(4), 573-589. DIRECTGOV, 2013. Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad [online]. 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