British expat pensioners to lose winter fuel payment

Published:  8 Nov at 6 PM
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The row over British state pensions and winter fuel benefits being paid to expats living abroad is hotting up, with ministers calling them a welfare system anomaly.

In a speech on state pension benefits, Work and Pensions Minister Ian Duncan Smith gave a clear indication that policymakers were considering ending the benefits, thus saving £10 billion. Although it seems the expat state pension is inviolable at present, the age-related winter fuel grant of between £200 and £300 is sure to go as soon as the minister can pull the plug.

Duncan Smith is in agreement that the government should safeguard expat monies as few are able to work to supplement their meagre pensions, but is determined that wealthy pensioners who don’t need the money should restrain their greed in favour of others’ need. The minister is suggesting that wealthy retirees should give their pensions back.

The spur for his comments is the recent court case brought and won by a British pensioner resident in Switzerland that the winter fuel payment should be given to all expat retirees without regard to need. As a result, Duncan Smith has promised the introduction of a weather rule whereby pensioners in warm countries would be refused the payment unless the temperature dropped below a set level.

The minister also stated that, except for a pledge given by PM Cameron that benefits for pensioners were untouchable, he would have removed the free bus passes and TV licenses enjoyed by the retired. He said that as the PM had given a commitment, he was happy to honour it.

Turning the other cheek, he added that pensioners can no longer better their financial circumstances by working, referring to pensioners as remarkable and saying as they gave so much to Britain, the country should do its best for them. He failed to mention that many British residents of pensionable age are forced to continue working to afford basic necessities.
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