The government's plans to stop spouse's state pensions may have been prompted by the number of people meeting online - including so-called 'Thai Brides'.
So why is this such a worry for the government?
Why the change?As we reported, this week's Queen's speech will include measures which will stop spouses being able to claim a state pension purely on the grounds of their husband or wife's contributions. At the moment they can claim £3,500 a year for the rest of their lives, despite never having paid any National Insurance themselves.
The total bill for these pensions is currently £410 million a year, and there are signs that it could rise - which is what is worrying the government.
Steve Webb, the pensions minister, said the numbers claiming the cash in the UK were dropping, but those overseas were rising. He said 200,000 of these pensions were now being paid to people outside the UK - half of whom were born outside the UK, and have never lived here.
OverseasThe rise in the number of overseas claimants may well be due to the number of men seeking partners overseas. A government source told the Telegraph that in addition to increased longevity, a rise in emigration, and an expansion of the rules to include men in 2010, the internet was partly to blame for a rise in the number of people receiving the payments.
There is a huge proliferation of websites offering to pair up lovelorn Brits with younger women from across Asia and Eastern Europe. And many thousands of women are on the books of these websites at any one time.
According to the BBC, around 70 couples a week go to the British Embassy in Bangkok to get marriage documents processes - almost all of them are older British men marrying younger Thai women. These women hold two risks for the British state pension system: they may never contribute to the National Insurance system, and they are likely to be drawing this pension long after their husbands have passed away.
But what do you think? Are the rules fair? Or are they a gesture to the Tory right wing? Let us know in the comments.
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