Financial News

Expats will pick up £200 winter fuel bonus after ECJ ruling

Retired British expats are due to collect an unexpected £200 a year windfall along with their state pensions.

Following a successful landmark ruling at the European Court of Justice, pensioners living outside the UK receiving the state pension must be paid the winter fuel payment.

The case was brought by an elderly expat in Switzerland who claimed the British government was unfair by not paying the allowance to all pensioners – even if they left the UK decades ago.

The case could cost the British government millions, as around 445,000 expat pensioners live overseas.

Currently, only 73,000 expats qualify for the fuel payment at a cost of £15 million a year, because the Department of Work and Pensions would only pay the allowance to pensioners who lived in the UK until they retired.

Now, the government must pay everyone living in the European Union and a handful of other countries who receive state pension regardless of when they left the UK, which could make the bill soar to £90 million.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is planning to get round the ruling by creating a rule for eligibility based on temperature

“We will fight these ridiculous EU rules. It is ludicrous we could have to pay more pensioners living in hot countries,” he said.

Households with someone on a state pension qualifies for the £200, while those with someone over 80 get £300.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to extend a charity campaign that raised more than £2 million from well-off pensioners who donated their winter fuel allowance to Saga, the financial firm for the over 50s and elderly.

Many wealthy film stars and celebrities handed over their allowance to help less wealthy pensioners heat their homes last winter. Donors included actress Helen Mirren and entertainer Bruce Forsyth.

14 thoughts on “Expats will pick up £200 winter fuel bonus after ECJ ruling”

  1. So British pensioners living outside the UK (in EU and other certain countries) will now get the winter fuel payment to warm their bank account a little bit!! Good for them – why should they be left “out in the cold”?? But the 4% of British state pensioners who live in other “certain” countries must exist on a shrinking pension that is FROZEN SOLID!!!! I say “shrinking” because in this age of inflation – any pension that does not increase yearly in line with the cost of living does (in reality) shrink!! These 4% of UK state pensioners have paid as much into the UK National Insurance Fund as the other 96% of UK state pensioners  for an indexed pension they expected to receive when they retired. Because they have retired to a country that is on the “frozen” list they get NO increases whatsoever until they die! Where they have retired is irrelevant – thay have already BOUGHT their pensions with compulsory payroll deductions to the NIF while they were working in the UK – just as I did.  I retired to Canada to be with my family – only to find that if I’d retired to the USA (a 20 minute drive away) I would get an increase every year – the same as is paid to UK pesioners!! The UK Parliament say that this is NOT unfair – it’s NOT unjust – it’s NOT illegal – and it’s NOT discriminatory.  Parliament can say it’s not illegal because they wrote the law – a shameful and cruel law that is renewed every year (by whatever political party is in power) without any debate at all. This has continued for over sixty years – and if any British MP has any guts and sense of justice left in them – then they’ll fix it!! When a 100 year old UK expat state pensioner in Florida gets £107 a week – and a 100 year old UK expat state pensioner in Australia gets a meagre pittance of £6 a week – how can this disgraceful policy be anything less than theft, fraud and discrimination?? It does NOT need any agreement between the UK and any “frozen” country to end this – as some still would have us believe – all it needs is the will of the UK Parliament and its MPs to get rid of one small paragraph in the Pension Act – and it’s done. Britain – for the sake of your own honour and decency – do it now!! 

      • To Rustybrowne.
        The comments you have read here were all made by a very small dedicated and determined group of email connected British expat frozen pensioners.
        We are trying as hard as possible to change the UK pension policy in our favour by all the computerised means that are open to us.
        Commenting on sites such as this one is small example of what we do.
        If you’d like to join us – then let me know on this site and I’ll tell you what you need to do. 

  2. Yes how about that ? Actually the article says ” Following a successful landmark ruling at the European Court of Justice, pensioners living outside the UK receiving the state pension must be paid the winter fuel payment.” Well I live in Canada and that is outside the EU and I receive the state pension, so from that I will get it. If not why not ?  Will the British government get it though, that all pensioners should get the full uprated pension as Nine Penneth said. If all

  3. Pity IDS does not stop to think before he opens his mouth. Many of those who will now qualify live in countries where the average winter temperature is far lower than that in the UK…he is blinded by the media always depicting elderly couples in deck chairs on sundrenched beaches and, like the media,  he needs to get a grasp on reality and learn to understand the meaning of justice, fairness and equality!

    Nine Penneth and morgeo have outlined the frozen pension discrimination scandal. There  is no legal, moral, financial or administrative justification for this policy. The ECHR ruling in 2010 did not make it illegal to pay the uprating world wide, when working contributions to the NI Scheme were made under the  same terms and conditions as everyone else; now, in retirement  they should be allowed to withdraw from the NI Fund on the same equal terms. The Ring fenced NI fund has a current surplus of around £38 BILLION and as pensions are already payable world wide administration would pose no difficulty.

    The country in which one retires is totally and utterly irrelevant – the pension earned should be the pension paid.

  4. When the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK was not breaking any laws by freezing our pensions, although the morality of it was never mentioned of course, Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Webb stated then and still do ad nausium ” We take the ruling of the ECHR very seriously.” Now it has ruled against them he is whining that he “Will fight these ridiculous EU rules”. Well sorry Mr Smith you can’t have it both ways.
    Even those pensioners you deny their rightful uprating are eligible for this fuel allowance as we are all in receipt of the state pension, the ECHR has said so, but still you try to wriggle out of your obligations. Winter temperatures here in Canada can go as low as -45 almost as cold as our rapidly decreasing pensions. These ministers forget that the money in the NI fund is OUR money taken from OUR paypackets to pay for our state pension and to pay 96% cost of living  increases and deny 4% annual increases is discrimination and theft and it’s about time this was stopped. The descent into poverty forced upon British seniors because of government intransigence is a national disgrace.

  5. Last winter, the temperature here in SW France, where we live, dropped to minus seventeen degrees.
    My husband,who is eighty- seven, served in the war as a tank wireless operator; then he worked until he was seventy, making all the obligatory National Insurance payments.  
    He now suffers from Epilepsy and Dementia.
    We have a wood-burning stove in our sitting room, but no central heating.  
    , we can only afford wood for one fire because we live on the old-age pension;  so we heat our bedroom with  a paraffin heater. 
    Not all pensioners live in year- round  sunshine; winters here are harsh and bitter!
    I dread the coming of next winter because my husband can no longer chop wood for the fire, and I have not the strength .
    We paid exactly the same taxes as UK resident pensioners until we retired – why should we not have the same benefits?

  6. Hi from Bill expat in Sapin, well it is about time we are hopefully able to claim winter fuel allowance in Spain & the rest of europe. How daft is it that I have 3 neighbors whom  already claim it because they started claiming before they came to live in Spain  & I cannot claim it? Surley we have the same bills to play & we have all worked for the payment.
    Ian Duncan Smith needs educating about the cold weather we do get in Spain ,plus our houses are not insulated to keep the heat in  like in the uk.
    I invite Ian Duncan Smith to come live near Alicante on the coast for a week in a apartment .I will make sure there is no heating available . maybe then he will be educated enough to have a change of mind.
    Maybe we could ask for a payout from one of the many countries that the UK send vasts amounts  of cash to ie, India Pakistan Africa etc etc. Mind you thats a one way train!!

    Oh maybe he will give us some summer fuel allowance because we have to cool our houses to make it comfortable to live in ??  Or am i pushing my luck lol regards Bill

    • >How daft is it that I have 3 neighbors whom already claim it because they started claiming before they came to live in Spain & I cannot claim it?

      Sure you can claim it, Bill, as long as you receive a UK government retirement pension. They will pay it directly into your bank account. Fill out the form online.

  7. I’ve lost all respect for Ian Duncan Smith after his dumb and ill informed comment about WFA and who should get it.

    Cast your mind back IDS as to why the WFA was introduced in the first palace !!

    It was a Gordon Brown sop to counter OAP’s dying of hypothermia in the UK but it was implemented in the most crass way possible.  It kicked in at 60 instead of 65 no doubt to placate those public sector workers who could afford to retire at 60 and no account was made of income, AKA means testing.

    If you intend to look at ways to restrict the cost of this court ruling on what should have been a universal benefit from the beginning, you’re even worse than Brown in vindictively penalising those who have a cold winter in Europe or who need air conditioning to avoid heat exhaustion in the Summer.

    Why don’t you have the b**** to roll the WFA into the state pension and thereby making it taxable for those paying tax.  It costs NOTHING to implement, its fair both for all UK citizens no matter where they live and overall the net cost to the country will be ZERO.

    Have you the courage to make the right decision or will you prevaricate and try to worm your way out of this ruling !

  8. We have lived in Spain for 23 years and during this time have paid our taxes to the UK upon reaching retirement 11 years ago we were told we couldnt have the fuel allowance as it did not exist when we came here. In January and February it can be very cold here and we have to purchase Logs for around 250 Euros plus bottled gas ( 18 euros each) for portable fires.
    We have felt for a long time that this was most unfair. So maybe at last something is being done for others in our situation.

  9. I moved to Sinai Egypt @ 57 years old. Even here from the end November – start of March each year it can get very cold late afternoons and at night and we need heating. But then on top of that we need aircon for 6 months of the year. All this costs money that I have to use from my pension. Surely heat is as much of a factor as cold for pensioners and a fuel allowance should be paid to cover both elements. I mean that the 200UKP should be paid to ALL pensioners without ‘weeding’ out whether you’re still in the UK – or in a EU country – or lucky enough to be in one of the other ‘handful of countries’ outside of the EU. Question:- is Egypt IN or OUT of that little list?. I am so fed up with the double standards the UK government & their departments impose on us so they can save a bit of money. They should realise we paid EXACTLY the same tax & N.I. contributions as pensioners in the UK who get all the additional benefits like free prescription charges, pensions being index lionked, free bus passes etc. etc. Surely we expat pensioners should be treated equally with out UK counterparts.

  10. We will fight these ridiculous rules says Ian Duncan Smith. Having read various judgments from the ECJ that rule against the UK governments one has to wonder at the level of expertise their legal department has in interpreting legislation that they signed up to.

    The percentage of politicians who are/were failed lawyers or at least ones who never actually practiced law is legion and perhaps that explains why our governments fall foul of EU law so often. In the benefits area, they make it so complicated by politicizing who gets what its hardly surprising they slip up time and again by making illegal rulings that can be challenged in the EU courts.

    On this particular case I would suggest IDS looks at overhauling the WFA and rolls it into the state pension rather than trying to finagle new get out clauses for the UK as it will just end up in the courts once more or like the poll tax, be unenforceable.

    A temperature test wont fly unless he wants to alienate many Tory voters in the south so it will be interesting to see what happens next. For now, I’ve applied for the WFA from this year and also requested in writing for 7 years worth of back payments as a test just to see how the DWP respond. I can’t see why it shouldn’t be paid from when I turned 60 in 2005 as the withholding of WFA was as wrong then as it was until the ruling this August.


Leave a Comment