Plight of expats who had benefits withdrawn in breach of European law highlighted in Parliament

by Ray Clancy on January 13, 2010

The plight of thousands of British expats living in Europe who had their disability and living allowances stopped when they moved abroad despite a European Court ruling that they are still entitled to them was highlighted in the UK House of Commons yesterday. Many of them are elderly and disabled, struggling to live on pensions that have dwindled in line with the falling Pound and one has even died while waiting for the Department of Work and Pensions to rule on his appeal. Chris Morgan who lived in Alicante Spain, died just before Christmas, MP Roger Gale told the House.

He has been campaigning on behalf of one of his ex-constituents John Hamilton who now lives in the Pas de Calais in northern France. His disability living allowance was stopped in when he moved in 2006. He at first accepted the situation. Then Hamilton, 71, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, discovered by accident that the issue was being examined by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which subsequently ruled in October 2007 that such benefits should be transferable. But when he asked for his benefit to be re-instated the DWP said he was still not entitled to it.

To make matters worse the DWP has since gone on to impose a new rule that only those who have had been present in the UK for 26 weeks out of the previous 52 on the day that they asked for their case to be examined could have their benefits re-considered, effectively ruling out thousands of people.

‘It is incredibly frustrating. This money should never have been stopped yet I, and many others, are having to fight tooth and nail to win the right for the issue to be heard,’ said Hamilton. Gale is furious at the DWP’s lack of will to sort out the situation and believes that the department is clearly in breach of European law. ‘How many more UK citizens now living within the EU or in Switzerland will have to die without receiving the benefits to which they are entitled while this government remains in breach of the law,’ he told the House.

A spokesman for the DWP said; ‘We are committed to complying with the European rules on the export of sickness benefits. We will look into each situation on a case by case basis. Customers have the right to appeal if they are dissatisfied. Eligibility for benefits is something that should be considered very carefully when taking the decision to move abroad’. The European Commission is considering taking legal action against the DWP for its failure to pay certain benefits to expats.

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big bob May 31, 2010 at 5:57 am

if britian is proved to be in violation of eu disability rights and your forced to return to britain by lack of these benifits can we sue for any losses brought about by their actions such as loseing your home and the stress caused by their actions the only thing i get from them is how much is it worth as we wil have to pay for complex houseing well time i pay for car mobility scooter furniture ect its gone so they have to keep us so we lose and they get us back and costs heck of a lot more than they were paying us to stay here cant britains governments count me i look for the cheapest options and thousands more comeing home cost will be millions

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