Winter fuel payments for expat pensioners in the spotlight again
|Published:||14 Nov at 6 PM|
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Since they began, winter fuel allowances have been paid to pensioners in the UK, in the EU and in several other world countries. As part of the new Pensions Bill, it now seems that those retirees living in countries deemed to have a higher winter temperature than most of Britain are to lose the benefit.
The method by which temperatures in European countries have been calculated has caused a great deal of controversy. Pensioners living inland from the Mediterranean coastlines of Spain and France, in the mountainous regions or in the north are claiming correctly that winter lows are far lower than those in the UK with its warming Gulf Stream.
Today, the row erupted again as the much-hated Ian Duncan-Smith revealed that, last year, expat retirees in Greece, Spain and Cyprus had received a total of 21 million in winter fuel payments, a huge increase. The reason behind the increase was yet another ruling by the European Court of Justice that ‘sufficient links’ to the UK including having worked in the country were sufficient to claim the allowance.
According to a government spokesperson, there is no way to determine whether claimants were simply foreigners who had worked in the UK for a time. Whilst this scenario is clearly wrong, as is much which emanates from the ECJ, the fact that pensioners living in, say, the northern regions of France, Spain and Portugal or Europe’s mountainous areas are to be deprived of their winter fuel allowance is simply ridiculous.
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It is not just the mountainous areas of Spain that get cold. Last week saw the residents of Palma, Mallorca wake up to the first snow of the year. Today at 1PM it is 9C and it is predicted to fall to at least 6C tonight. Even the Costa del Sol gets cold, particularly at night during the winter. Possibly the average temperature is higher and it is without doubt sunnier but it is still cold.