UK expat winter fuel allowance

Hands typing on vintage typewriter on wooden table.

October 19

Dear Sir,

There are over 500,000 UK expats living in France and Spain many of whom are retired old age pensioners.

About 10 years ago Iain Duncan Smith called for wealthy pensioners who do not need benefit payments such as winter fuel allowance and free bus passes benefit payments to be voluntarily handed back the money to the government. I would enjoy reading the audited statistics of the money repaid.

Shock horror when all UK expats living in France and Spain had their winter fuel allowance cancelled.

The then Work and Pensions Secretary explained that calculations were made on official temperature figures for each country, based on a five month winter that represents the coldest time of the year in the UK, matching existing criteria used by the government for other forms of cold weather payment.

In response to questions about recognising the variance of temperatures depending on altitude and region, Mr Duncan Smith said the government had looked at a system of weighting temperatures for areas with heavy populations of British pensioners, as opposed to calculating using figures for each whole country. But as the highest concentrations of British pensioners were often found in the warmer parts of European countries, it would have meant at least as many countries would be excluded as under the adopted scheme, if not more.

On the complaint that warmer overseas territories of countries like France, Spain and Portugal had skewed the results for British pensioners in those countries, the Work Minister said that European law would have to be changed for France’s Caribbean islands, Spain’s Canary Islands and Portugal’s Atlantic islands not to be included in the calculations.

The changes implemented including the system of weighting meant that the measurement of temperature was altered to suit the new criteria thus denying UK expat pensioners the winter fuel allowance

For those of us that live full-time in France and Spain we know just how cold the winter months may be.

Please view my UK government petition

Stuart Burton

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