Expats to lose winter fuel payments in 2015

Expats are set to lose their winter fuel payments as part of cuts in welfare benefits.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Mr Duncan Smith, has said that countries with higher temperatures than the warmest area in the UK could be affected. The cut will save the UK £17 million a year.

Mr Duncan Smith has been quoted as saying that the winter payments had been put in place to help pensioners with their heating costs and by changing the rules from winter 2015/16 people with higher temperatures than those in the UK would no longer receive the payment.

The cut could affect around 100,000 British pensioners living abroad in Spain, France and Greece. Thought to be most affected is the biggest expat population in Spain, over 49,000 pensioners are receiving the benefit of £200 for the over-60s and £300 for the over 80’s.

There have been discussions about cutting spending to expats recently, but David Cameron promised in his last election campaign that payments would be protected until 2015.

Claimants who still qualify for benefits even though they live abroad are thought to cost the taxpayer millions.

Previously, people were only eligible for the winter fuel payment if they moved abroad after the age of 60. But a ruling by the European Court of Justice, insisted that any eligible expat should receive the payment, whenever they left Britain.  The judgement meant that costs to the British taxpayer nearly doubled.

Winter fuel payments made to people in Europe and Switzerland for winter 2012/13 was 119,587, an increase of 44,901 on the previous year.

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    • Brian Cave

      16 February 2014 • 07:46

      Anyone who lives in most if France knows that winter conditions are as bad as in southern England – This winter is mild – but storms and floods have been the norm in Brittany and the North and West . Snow is the norm in the Massive Centrale, the Eastern mountains and the Pyrenees. Others in other so-called ‘hot’ countries [Duncan Smith calls us ‘hot’] will know of conditions elsewhere – The British Pensioner expats are considered as second class British Citizens by the British Government. WE NEED SOMEONE TO REPRESENT US IN PARLIAMENT. It is essential if we are ever to able to stand up tall and say ‘We are British too – aren’t we?’
      PLEASE SIGN up to this petition – please!
      Make the politicians listen to us.

    • Graham Richards

      16 February 2014 • 11:59

      Couldn´t agree more with what Brian has said above. Not that many expats are millionaires which IDS should check up on as a matter of top priority and he should also look at his own personal lifestyle! I know of many expats living in both France and other EU countries who just about get by and to take away their WFP will be a travesty of justice and common decency something that appears to be lost on IDS and his cronies.

      To have official representation at Westminster is not a “nice to have” but “an absolute essential!”

    • Roy Peters

      16 February 2014 • 12:48

      It is my contention that any pensioner who can afford a second house in Spain or France would not be in financial need of this payout.
      There are pensioners living on the barest minimum in the UK and they deserve it far more than someone with a winter apartment or villa in France or Spain, no matter what the temperature.

    • Enlim

      16 February 2014 • 14:39

      I live in France on my UK pension in my only house (not a secondary house) I will absorb the 750euro that I paid for firewood this winter, if IDS will agree to stop taxing me! I dont suppose he would agree to the he is only happy if he gets two bites of the carrot.

    • David Rosemont

      16 February 2014 • 15:34

      Many expatriates are exactly that and do not have second homes in Europe, having sold their home in the UK. Furthermore they live in places that are as cold or colder than many parts of the UK in the winter months. There is no justification for excluding expatriates who have paid their taxes all their working lives in the UK. This is petty vindictivenes on behalf of IDS and Camoron.

    • paul Rees

      16 February 2014 • 17:11

      This is not a means tested benefit, it is every British pensioner’s right within Europe.
      The cynical manipulation of figures by IDS, for example the inclusion of France’s overseas territories, does him little credit, neither does his promotion of the image that expats are all gin-swilling millionaires living high on the hog.
      The savings from the proposal are minor in comparison with the UK’s overseas aid to, for example, Argentina which receives over £20 million a year for no coherent reason.

      The expat has played fair with the UK and generally has a full NI contribution record. To be denied what’s everyone else gets is iniquitous.

      I agree with the other comments that expats need representation in the UK’s parliament . Many living overseas also are now denied the vote on this and other matters such as whether the UK should stay in the EC. Even the French have representation for their overseas citizens, but Britain has a policy of denying representation and ignoring those who have put in years of toil helping the exchequer.

    • Mike Groves, Sec CPFG

      30 November -0001 • 00:00

      Anyone who believes that Ex-Pats living in Cyprus are of the millionaire variety is not well informed. Most came here when pensions covered their costs, They no longer do and a 30% reduction in value squeezed the pips and sent 50% back to UK. Those that remain mostly need winter fuel payments as the Churches, Service and other charities can vouch for.
      Universal benefits are just that regardless of views like those above.

    • J. A. Bosworth

      16 February 2014 • 18:27

      One point that hasn’t been made sufficiently strongly to the UK Parliament is that Government Monetary Policy — in the form of Quantitative Easing (QE) — has significantly reduced the value of UK pensioners for Expats. My own income fell by some 40% because the £/CHF Exchange rate went from CHF.2.5 to CHF.1.4 almost overnight in 2008. It is only CHF.1.47 now. If such losses of income — which has had no effect upon pensions paid in the UK — are taken into account, they would far outweigh the expenditure on Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA). I don’t think that WFA will be withdrawn from Expats in Switzerland, because nobody can argue that Swiss winters are warmer than those anywhere in the UK.
      Moreover, despite what the government would like to say, WFA is paid for out of the Treasury income from taxes on Expat pensions. It is therefore dishonest to claim that Expats don’t contribute to it.
      The EU has decreed that withdrawing WFA, like disenfranchisement, is contrary to EU principles as being unfairly discriminating against the right for free movement of EU citizens.

    • Margaret Hales

      16 February 2014 • 19:22

      With respect I think we are missing the point somewhat. This is an issue of discrimination. As long as the principle of the winter fuel allowance is a top-up of the pitifully low British pension, then all who have contributed to the NI system should get it. It was never means-tested. Otherwise we decide that all lefthanders should get it, or all with size 10 feet! That would save the government money too and be just as stupid and daft! I LIVE in Spain full time, I am not rich and if it were not for my professional pension I would be pitifully poor. Just as I would be in Southampton or Stockholm or Strasbourg. With the free movement of people- all rights intact- across the European Union (which all the holiday makers adore, of course) comes our right to the continuing protection of being a British Citizen. Getting the Winter Fuel Allowance is one of them and to stop it is…. discrimination. Meanwhile, if some insist on talking temperatures, we had the first snow here in Alicante Province (yes, on the beaches) in November before even a flake had fallen on Mr Iain Duncan Smith. That was the same day that I- and our house- were hit by lightning. The second lorry load of logs this winter is already depleted. Our difficulty as Britons living abroad is that we are out of sight, without the vote and easy to discriminated against. Few MPs (until it gets to General Election time) know we exist and then, because only some of us can vote as the rest have had the vote taken away (more discrimination) we will continue to have no voice at all. Perhaps Brian is right and we do need MPs to represent those of who live abroad. If the French can do it, surely Britain can!!

    • Peter Johnson

      16 February 2014 • 22:55

      Ian Duncan Smith justifies this attack on ex pats as being a money saving exercise for the British tax payer. As others have stated the vast majority of ex pat pensioners worked hard all their working lives paying tax and NI and in many cases continue to pay UK tax on certain types of pension, they have no choice in this matter, as long they receive these pensions they will pay UK tax till the day they die which if IDS has his way may for some be sooner rather than later.

      If Ian Duncan Smith wishes to save money for the British tax payer he would do well to look in the mirror and the closets of his department. During a recent grilling by a Parliamentary committee he stated that it was reasonable and common sense to write off 40 million pounds on a failed IT project one of many many examples of government waste. The money wasted by the UK government in one year is sufficient to wipe out the UK deficit without any further action.

      I have written to IDS on two occasions outlining ways in which he could make significant savings on the welfare budget, needless to say as they would lose him and his party a few votes he failed to reply or engage

      Ex pats need dedicated representation to protect their interests, if you haven’t signed the petition do so now don’t sleep walk into a disaster.

    • Shirley Morgan

      17 February 2014 • 02:02

      Wish I lived in cloud Cuckoo land Mr Peters – no offence intended! I moved with my husband to France happily paying our own way here and receiving the WFA because we were living in UK when I qualified as a pensioner to receive it the year it was introduced. Mine and some other ex-pat pensioners circumstances have changed since we chose, as citizens of the EU, to retire in and from the UK and move to live elsewhere in Europe.

      I rent my home now, don’t have a car, pay my utility bills, have to buy logs for the log fire for heating , and other living expenses, all from my Married Womans’ full contributions including HRA. My UK State pension income,was worked and paid for since I was 16 till I was 60, 6 years, ago. OH and I now live separately at opposite ends of the country. Me in N France , to be nearer family and friends up here and in UK, also because of health issues diagnosed and occurring over last 3 years.

      I still await my 2013 WFA letter and details of how much of it was lumped in with my state pension in January! No idea how much was pension or WFA on that payment, due to variable monthly Xchange rates. So now I need to fight to try and retain the WFA after working and paying my dues for 44 years till retirement. If I lived on the S coast of England pretty much due north of me perhaps 70-80 miles as the crow flies, then I wouldn’t have to worry and I could pretty much live entirely off the UK state instead of hoping for some french state aide here. Your comments don’t hold water Mr Peters. I receive the same BBC weather forecasts and charts as you do on TV and currently what hits S coast of UK also hits W and N parts of France.

      I know and have experienced, that many parts of France are also colder than where I am – just as Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire are colder than most of England. So following Government argument – most of the pensioners in England should also have their WFA stopped! On the premise of your argument, pensioners living in UK who have bigger incomes and may also own a 2nd home, wherever it may be, perhaps shouldn’t receive WFA either. Just imagine the uproar in the UK and certainly many many thousands of votes lost to the presiding government. I still find no justification why, as a British Citizen, my address, wherever in Europe I choose to live, except the UK , should be the reason for stopping an allowance granted to British pensioners only living in the UK, some of whom may not all have worked and lived there all their lives. So I shall continue to fight and argue for the right to retain my WFA and to seek voting rights for British Expats.

    • Parker Williams

      17 February 2014 • 09:44

      The recent lampooning of British expats abroad sitting by the swimming pool with cocktails whilst receiving their UK Winter Fuel Payment has incensed expats across the world.
      British expats in Cyprus know full well what it is like to live in the cold temperatures in the winter. The Troodos Mountains have snow in the winter, there is even a ski resort there. Many roads are cut off when snow falls.
      British expats in Cyprus also pay some of the highest electricity charges in Europe, as many use their a/c units to keep warm in the winter. Those using gas cylinders and firewood have also seen large price increases.
      I suggest IDS comes to Cyprus in the winter to see for himself. Oh, and if he comes, tell him not to forget his suntan lotion!

    • Roy Peters

      17 February 2014 • 12:18

      Mrs Morgan, With all due respect, my argument is not just about the temperatures, but much more about the fact that people who can afford to have two homes get the payment. In line with your reasoning I suppose you agree that even a multi-millionaire should be entitled also because he ‘paid into the system’.
      Sadly there are old folks in Britain who live on the breadline and rely in these payments to keep warm in winter. I suppose you have not heard of some old folk who must sometimes choose between keeping warm and eating. This is a scandalous situation where many millions are being paid to people who have money enough to run two homes. If you are one of these lucky people, you can certainly afford to turn up the heat as and when required, many of our old folk do not have that luxury.

    • Marion woods

      17 February 2014 • 15:30

      Why do those in the UK assume all expats are rich and have two homes? I sold my home in order to buy one here.I have the state pension plus two tiny pensions.Believe me, heating IS essential for 4-5 months of the year.
      It is necessary to check abuse of the system, however, where one of a couple who has a holiday home may claim for the house in the UK, and the other claim for the house in Spain!

    • Lennon

      24 December 2014 • 06:10

      I’d go further, and say exPats shouldn’t be taking a UK pension all the while they are abroad and not spending it here!

    • david

      30 December 2014 • 15:06

      These people paid their money like everyone else through National Insurance. And what would they live on? You get a pension no matter what, that’s the deal. no matter where you live. Some of these people have saved all their lives to get a bit of sunshine or live nearer to family. What kind of moron are you?

    • brian willcox

      03 January 2015 • 08:52

      Mr Duncan smith thinks its unfair taxpayers paying expats winter fuel payments to those that have pay taxes in u.k they might think its unfair to pay benefits to children living abroad that have never lived in the u.k so is it just the case of taking of there own to give to others there normal priorities

    • William Beaumont

      03 January 2015 • 09:48

      I would like to have a contact with Mararet Hales to support her.
      In 1945 many of our contrymen fought and won a war with Germany. When they returned home they paid Nation Insurance in the expectation that they would receive a fair pension. Our German friends seem to get a pension that is far better than the British.. I was forced into the RAF for two years but stayed for 15 years in defence of my country. When I was demobbed I left without a penny but paid the NI and thought that at reirement I would be free to travel freely with my hard earnt State Pension (SP). Let me say that is NOT true, you have to “timeously report your every movement”to the DWP because SP is regarded as a BENEFIT. (see your letters of any SP increase) The UK does not have to pay benefits to expats. We have heard rumours in the past this it has been said that “If you can afford to live abroard (Spain) then SP will not be payable.
      We need to have the vote and fight for our rights..

    • William Beaumont

      03 January 2015 • 09:56

      Can you advise where do I find this petition? I am an expat pensioner resident in Benissa.
      There is a small subject that has not been mentioned; the health service in Valencia is generally excellent BUT we now have to pay 10% for medication but full price for creams needed after Radiotherapy.

    • valerie hart

      09 January 2015 • 10:36

      Rubbish as usual, we are still paying income tax are our pension, so it is being spent in the UK. Mind you wouldn’t mind moving back to England and then we will be able to claim housing benefit as well, will give this a lot of thought

    • Gail Jewkes

      15 January 2015 • 22:24

      The government has it wrong in discontinuing the heating allowance. How will England cope if the expats need to go back and need to claim not just benefits they would be entitled to
      but also the houses they would need to live in. They seem to think everyone moved here is wealthy but most are just getting by on basic pensions. Think they need to reconsider seriously this matter.

    • Nicky

      16 January 2015 • 10:49

      Good afternoon,
      We expat pensioners, need to send this following email to the Work & Pensions Committee.
      workpencom@parliament.uk, by the 24th January 2015.

      “It is urged that a ‘prayer’ an EDM as follows is laid before parliament before the 24th January (40 days after the SI was laid ) Early day motion( prayer)
      Winter Fuel Payment to British Citizens in EU countries.
      The Statutory Instrument 2014 No.3270 laid before Parliament on the 15th December 2014 restricting payment to pensioners residing in countries,(incorrectly,)called by the DWP ‘hot’ of the EU should be annulled. After the General Election, this matter may then be appropriately reconsidered by the new parliament.
      This SI almost certainly contravenes the UK treaty agreement with the EU on social security co-operation.”
      Time is of the essence as they need to be received before the 24th January.

      Nicky Corrigan-Grimston

    • William Beaumont

      17 January 2015 • 07:41

      Sorry Andre I don’t know where this petition is located but something needs to be set in motion. I wonder what would be done if the pension was to be reduced by 3.846gbp/week? ID Smith should as many have said ‘Come and spent the winter months here in Spain, not just your summer holidays’

    • Jack

      22 January 2015 • 12:14

      I used to work in the dwp, winter fuel is for winter.Common peopke your generation have had it good. Sky high property prices and final salary schemes. I used to get regular calls asking ” where is my Christmas money, to buy my grandkids presents” the fact is that yoi could be sat in 10 million quid mansion still vlsiming winter fuel !! Young people are under enough pressure to look after the old. Let’s not add mor burden. If your cold stand in the sun !!!!!

    • Pamela symons

      22 January 2015 • 16:15

      I am sitting in my lounge today,in southern Spain,(my main residence not second home) and am freezing at temperatures of 2 dgs.a blanket around me. wall fire on, and these temperatures for 3 weeks now,and possibly longer. I am a pensioner,66 yrs of age,paid into UK system all my life,not taking anything from UK,as no children or social security payments. I am not a burden on your nhs. why are you denying me a winter fuel payment, as I have contributed all my life. you give money easily to people never paid into the system,or not worthy, why are you discriminating me. disgusting.!

    • Teresa Howard

      22 January 2015 • 16:56

      The statement in the above article says everything about the UK these days. Expats living abroad are said to cost the UK tax payers a lot of money are they? Well just where do they think we paid our taxes for the last 40 to 50 odd years? Nevertheless, the Government would agree to grant the allowance to those NOT having paid in for the majority of their lives and likely having migrated to the UK comparatively recently! What happened to the so called tearing down of EU boundaries – seems it only works one way – going into the UK. I can tell you, winter can be hellishly cold in Alicante!

    • Walter Bolden

      05 February 2015 • 09:32

      Please can we send all these comments to Ian Duncan Smith!
      Yesterday it was snowing in Jalon!

    • Brian Hinchcliffe

      07 February 2015 • 13:33

      This issue is about Ex-pats, i.e. people who no longer live in the UK. EDS catergorise anybody who lives abroad as obscenely wealthy. Most ex-pats have contributed a life-time of tax and NI. Very many are still tax-payers. They make no demands on the NHS, GPs, social services, housing benefit, residential care, bus passes etc.
      EDS has deliberately chosen to use a description of non-metropolitan France which includes the tropics and sub-tropics. It is a dishonest and cynical attempt to save cash by disqualifying taxpayers from a standard benefit. How can it be fair that a recently immigrated Romanian can claim child benefit for children in Romania, but UK citizens who have contributed over a lifetime lose their firewood?

    • Liz Brown

      14 October 2015 • 11:00

      As we older people paid contributions and taxes all of our working lives, might you not now be getting the benefits of some of that. If that’s not so, then it’s down to governments squandering that money on useless and immoral wars etc. We certainly don’t live in any sort of mansion and our private pensions pretty much went down the pan in the early 2000’s, but hey, we’re happy and not moaning!

    Comments are closed.