Winter fuel allowance for expat British pensioners to be scrapped

by Ray Clancy on June 27, 2013

Winter fuel allowance for expat British pensioners to be scrapped

Winter fuel allowance for expat British pensioners to be scrapped

Tens of thousands of expat British pensioners living in warm European countries will no longer get a winter fuel allowance from 2015, the UK government has announced. Currently British pensioners receive the allowance which varies from £100 to £300 and in recent years there has been much criticism of the payments.

It is thought that between 60,000 and 100,000 expats will be affected, many of them living in southern Spain which has a high proportion of pensioners who left the UK for a warmer climate. UK Chancellor George Osborne announced that from 2015 British pensioners living in European countries that are warmer than anywhere in Britain will no longer be able to claim the benefit. He also said that around 150,000 who could receive the allowance from 2016 because of a ruling in the European Court of Justice will not be able to do so because of the new temperature test.

Pensioners living in European Union countries or Switzerland could receive the payment only if they had already been claiming it before leaving the UK but the European court ruled that those even those who moved abroad while still of working age could get the allowance. The UK government had been discussing changes to the benefit for years but it is thought that the court ruling made it inevitable as this would have pushed up the number eligible for the winter fuel allowance to 440,000.

‘Paying out even more money to people from all nationalities who may have worked in this country years ago but no longer live here is not a fair use of the nation’s cash. So from the autumn of 2015, we will link the Winter Fuel Payment to a temperature test. People in hot countries will no longer get it. It is after all a payment for winter fuel,’ Osborne told the House of Commons in London.

Quote from : “Pensioners claiming winter fuel allowance, but living outside the UK, will no longer all be eligible. This will depend on a so-called “temperature test,” which will exclude countries warmer than the UK in the winter. The new welfare cap (see above) will not affect the state pension. This means the government will still have the freedom to maintain or increase pensions in the future.”

The biggest bill for winter fuel payments in Europe outside of the UK is for expats in Spain, figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show. The cost for people there was £5.78 million in the winter of 2011/2012, according to the latest statistics. Spain is one of a list of seven countries that have been defined as having warmer winters than the UK according to a list compiled by the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. France, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Gibraltar are the others on the list.

However, backers of the allowance claim that in Spain the winters can be just as cold as in the UK. Many properties where pensioners live do not have central heating, double glazing or roof insulation and owners claim it costs more in heating costs. Also expats living in northern France have winters that are as cold as the UK.

The National Federation of Occupational Pensioners said that the policy may lead to many pensioners who live abroad being deprived of the ability to pay heating bills.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian A July 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

¨"This will depend on a so-called “temperature test,” which will exclude countries warmer than the UK in the winter. "
Another half thought out scheme to grab a cheap headline. Spain probably has a more diverse climate than the UK so where will they use as a yardstick. Oh yes – the hot Southern coast of course. Next the £10 Xmas bonus will only be available to those that believe in Santa Claus and intelligent politicians. Just stop changing the rules please so we know from one year to the next where we stand!


Alan July 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

The temperature test measures outside temperatures – I don't live outside, I live in a cold, un-insulated house that is on a mountain and my last winter fuel bill over 4 months was 3000 euros due to the massive increase in oil prices in Spain. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get the inside temperature above 18C in the winter. Meanwhile, my friend in the UK is toasty and warm having had her home insulated by a council subsidy and her last winter's fuel bill was £600. We are both pensioners with the same size houses with central heating. The removal of the subsidy, for me personally, seems unfair and arbitrary.


Eric W July 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm

What is the difference between an ex-pat who was receiving fuel allowance before moving abroad, and those who were not. If they live in the same country why should one continue to receive the benefit and not the other? Where is the logic in this?

We have all paid into the system, but these arbitrary rules create inequality, which is typical of the UK system.

An ex-pat can not easily get medical treatment in the UK, despite having worked there and contributed all of their working lives, but an immigrant is entitled to all benefits when entering. Where is the justice of this?


D J F July 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

As has been said, a half thought out scheme based on the assumption that Spain is a hot country.
The problem is most of these decision makers don,t come here in the winter.
My wife and I have walked along Mojacar front me wearing suit, overcoat, scarf and gloves and my wife with her fur coat on. The temperature was 0 degrees C and it was New Years eve.
The house is a typical single brick uninsulated duplex with a fireplace that doesn't draw properly unless it has a roaring log fire going.
Logs cost 200 euros a lorry load, about 6 cwt and two of those are needed each winter. So little change out of the present allowance.
I just do not understand how the so called reciprocal arrangements between EU countries can be so blatantly ignored, including the medical treatment. Or perhaps I am missing the point and there is something in the "small print" that is not readily publicised.


Em. H July 12, 2013 at 9:36 am

Below is a post made on a forum in Greece, And it is all so true. This Government needs to get it's act together. Winters in Greece especially in the North can be far colder than UK.

I paid into the PAYE system for 37 years not so long as some I know but enough to claim a full pension! I have always said that I think perhaps it is not right to take some of the allowed benefits when abroad but if UK keep handing them out then people will take them. I will be claiming my pension within the next 12 months, but that is all I will take as the fuel allowance is going to be stopped anyway. The way I see this is that pensioners living abroad have no use of public facilities in the UK, they are not a drain on the NHS system, they get no bus passes or any other freebies. No free TV licence, no help with care homes or home helps – the list could go on and on. So after paying in for 37 years, at full rate we get nothing in return but a pension, I do think that it is a little mean to say the least, when you consider how many young people have never done a days work in their lives, have families and have no intention of working. The working population in the UK are paying for them, how many immigrants come into the UK and are given everything on a plate having never paid into the system, how many men/women work in UK and claim Child Allowance for children that live back in India or Pakistan. I could go on forever regarding the benefits these people get, that we have worked our backsides off for. £200 does not really seem a lot when you take into account all these other factors!!!!
27 June at 23:04 · Like · 8

Above is a post I made the last time this reared its head, may I add to this that once I draw my pension and my husband receives his military pension a few months later we will still be paying tax on those pensions in the UK, and taking nothing in return by way of benefits or use of facilities in the UK, as all facilities are denied us as we left the UK more than 6 months ago. Theft springs to mind. And as others have said it can be very cold here, I have scraped ice of my car windscreen on quite a few occasions.


Les July 26, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I am 81,and like many others of similar years,left school and started to work at the age of 14, I continued to be in employment ,and pay
taxes,and N.I. contributions until my retirement at 65.
In 1997 my wife and I decided to move to Spain for a happier,and healthier life,(We didn't like what England was becoming) we both
like it here very much,and have NO regrets about the decision we made.
The UK has just experienced, and typically,gone over the top about,a few days of reasonably hot weather,what with heat alerts every
five minutes on the TV,and reports that the extreme temperatures may have caused the premature deaths of 740 people.
Here on the Costa Blanca we have considerably higher temp's,and not for just a few days,but for three months or more,surely anyone
can understand that the extreme heat,is just as harmful,and life threatening as the extreme cold.
Of course by living here we do not need a WINTER fuel allowance,but air conditioning is just as expensive to run as central heating.
It is strange how the UK Government can find millions of pounds to fund the scrounging immigrants who never have,,and probably
never will pay a penny into the system,Who claim child allowance for children (probably non existent ) in their country of origin.
A friend recently asked what England meant to me,the answer didn't take long, "I was born there,my parents are buried there,and
it pays me a meager pension,probably one of the lowest in the western world.


Lyssie November 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

That’s rich, coming from someone who is himself an immigrant. An expat is nothing more or less than an immigrant, and I say that as an immigrant to the UK. I pay taxes and NI and have since I started working here as a student, 12 years ago. And yet, I am not eligible for anything from the system into which I pay, other than the NHS, and only because I live in Scotland.

Non-EU immigrants to this country are not eligible for any public funds, although we pay taxes – even if we are married to Britons, which I am! Educate yourself on the realities of a country in which you haven’t resided for 15 years before you go spouting off about “scrounging immigrants”, in a screed which skates very close to the edge of latent racism.


Sandi Heales January 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Hi all & a Happy New Year, are you aware that there is an e-petition out there at the moment regarding the Winter Fuel in France. the link is just copy and paste


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: