Expat Pensioners Urged To Rekindle Winter Fuel Fight

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
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Expat pensioners are trying to rekindle their battle to stop the British government taking away their winter fuel allowance.

British MP Roger Gale has today tabled a motion in the House of Commons to axe the new law scrapping paying the allowance to expat pensioners in countries where the average winter temperature is higher than that in the UK.

If the temperature in the country where the expat lives is higher than 5.6 centigrade, then from April 2015, the allowance is no longer paid.

Lobbyists are urging British pensioners in popular expat destinations across Europe, such as France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, to write to their MPs to plead with them to support Gale’s motion.

The government says the measure will save the British taxpayer around £1.4 million a year.

Freezing weather

The allowance is paid to supplement pensioner fuel bills in freezing weather.

However, the government claims that this is unfair when expats who live in warmer climates pick up the cash.

The way the trigger temperature for paying the allowance has provoked protests from British pensioners across Europe.

For example, the average winter temperature is worked out as at least 7 centigrade as the British government includes tropical French Guinea as part of France for political reasons, while pensioners living in Northern France often suffer the same or worse winter conditions than the UK.

Now, some are just 22 miles across the English Channel and are not paid the allowance when others on the ‘right side’ of the narrow stretch of water pick up a fuel bonus of £200 to £300, depending on their age.

How to protest

Around 63,000 British expat pensioners live in France – with just 30 enjoying the sunshine of French Guinea as a home. Winter fuel payments were made to nearly 30,000 of these expats.

Gale said: “To join the protest, expat pensioners must contact their own MPs or the MPs for the last UK constituency where they were registered to vote.

“When they write or email, they should explain why they have an interest. Tell them: ‘I am going to lose my winter fuel payment, which matters to me; this is unfair because…’ and ask them to sign Early Day Motion 695 which asks for annulment of the new legislation.”

“Expats should also ask their MP to confirm that they have done so or give a reason why not.”

MPs will debate the motion on February 9, 2015.

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