UK expat retiree winter fuel payments under threat

Published:  9 Jan at 6 PM
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According to recently released figures, the majority of the total of £13 million paid to UK retirees through the winter fuel grant is being sent to expat pensioners living in warm countries.

The figures, published by the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions under the Freedom of Information Act, state that almost £6 million went to retirees in Spain and over £3 million was paid to pensioners living in France. Those in Greece, Cyprus and Italy also received the payment, with a total of 74,885 expats receiving at least £200.

The number of claimants increased by over 1,000 in 2012, with experts fearing that a far larger rise in applications will result from a recent European Court of Justice ruling. Prior to the ruling, only pensioners who had claimed the payment whilst living in the UK could qualify, with the new law now giving eligibility to all pensioners over 60 who are resident in EEA countries and Switzerland and who can show genuine UK links.

The new ruling could cost the UK government a further £100 million in winter fuel payments, with Work and Pensions Minister Ian Duncan Smith now desperate to introduce his so-called ‘temperature test’ to ensure pensioners who don’t need it don’t get it. Details of his controversial scheme are not yet finalised, but it’s believed that the test may also apply to retirees living in warmer areas of the UK such as the south of England.
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