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UK Mulls Winter Fuel Allowance test for Expats

Fri 31st Aug 2012
UK Mulls Winter Fuel Allowance test for Expats

The UK authorities are giving consideration to making changes to the winter fuel allowances for those living abroad.

Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary for Works and Pensions, is giving thought to the introduction of a means of assessing whether those who live in 'warmer climates' should be eligible to make a claim.

At the moment any household with a person claiming a pension from the UK, and who retains a "genuine and sufficient link to the UK" may be able to qualify for a payment of £200 towards their heating bills. The benefit increases to £300 for those aged 80 or more.

Last year less than 20% of the 444'000 expats living overseas were eligible to claim any Winter Fuel Allowance, which cost the UK an estimated £16 Million.

This has long been a contentious issue in the UK, with many considering the payment of WFA to non-UK residents little more than benefit fraud.


Firstly, why should the benefit be denied to one UK pensioner who has made 50 years plus of contributions to the state only to retire to Spain and be denied any claim, whilst on the other hand a Pensioner from A.N.Other country can pay nothing into the UK system but move to the UK and start to claim this (and other) benefits almost immediately.

Secondly, whilst £16 Million is obviously a considerable sum, it hardly seems significant compared to the estimated £3.2 Billion value of all UK benefit fraud for 2012 (Why not address that first of all Mr Duncan-Smith ?)

Thirdly, it does get cold in Spain !

Comment on this Story

There is also the matter of back payments of WFA as the ruling by the ECJ is retrospective despite the DWP spokesperson telling me they don't do retrospective payments of WFA. For the last 3 months I've been doing battle with them over this and yesterday they informed me they would send me a hither to unknown WFA back payments claim form to fill in but in the same breath they stated the DWP is NOT paying any back payments. The battle continues !!!!!
Mike - Tue, 20th Nov 2012
Doesn't go a long way though, does it ?
Simon Parker - Mon, 5th Nov 2012
I agree it gets very cold here in Spain, i have a log burner but can,t afford the logs, so i use Butane gas, which seems to go up in price every week, also bad for health, i wheel it from room to room, we had hail stones last year that dented my outside metal blinds and killed 2,500 birds also knocked down trees, they were from tennis ball size upward, the temp inside my house most of winter is 9c, as i can,t afford to put heat on during day, i wear a coat in the house, people that visit also keep their coats on, Mr Smith you try living like this in your house in the winter, .........
Una-faye Marie - Sun, 30th Sep 2012
Surely a “genuine and sufficient link to the UK" would include paying 40 years plus of social security contributions into the system before chosing to move abroad ?
Robster - Sat, 1st Sep 2012
If the UK does introduce a means test for this allowance, then Duncan-Smith must get scientific consultation. It is a well known fact that those used to living in a warm climate will always feel cooler differences in temperature more than someone used to living in a cooler part of the world. How many times have you been to the UK and needed a jumper in the middle of summer!
Ed Bishop - Sat, 1st Sep 2012
Actually think the last point is most valid as IVA and fuels costs are hiked and electric or push-around gas heaters can be the only means of heating. These are very expensive to run compared to UK heating costs
Christopher Gamble - Fri, 31st Aug 2012

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