December 5, 2022

Winter Fuel Payment to cease

for Brits abroad!

By Margaret Sheard

From winter 2015/16 the Winter Fuel Payment for people who have moved abroad to certain countries is to be stopped. What is the UK coming to? Like a lot of other people who worked all their lives, paid Picturetax and generally supported the country, was it so wrong to try and achieve a better lifestyle when it was time to retire by moving to a warmer and more financially economical country?

On a personal note I worked for 50 years with no breaks, I did not have children so never claimed maternity benefit or leave, 2 weeks early in my working life was the only sickness benefit I ever claimed, I was never out of work so never claimed any unemployment benefit and I am sure there are many more people like me who feel they made a huge contribution to the country, taking very little back.

When retiring at the age of 65 I looked at the kind of lifestyle I could expect in the UK living on a basic State PensionUK money and with what eventually turned out to be a very small additional pension I had taken out myself. The future did not look bright so I decided to move abroad where I would be able to make my funds stretch a little further to give me a reasonably comfortable life.

I chose Cyprus and yes the weather is warmer but house building is geared to this weather and very few properties have central heating so although the winters may not be as cold as the UK, living in an unheated house can be extremely uncomfortable and using electric for heating is very expensive. There are of course ways around this, installation of propane gas central heating or a wood-burning stove but these are both expensive to install and to run. There are times when the winter wKeeping warmeather is very cold and there has been an occasion this year 2013/14 when the temperatures in Cyprus were actually lower than the UK!!

Another consideration when living overseas is medical issues. Medication has to be paid for and also surgery which can be very expensive. People like myself who no longer have a UK property or address do not take anything from the NHS so is it too much to expect for a little help with winter heating in our chosen country?

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has decided that we do not need the winter fuel payment in certain warmer climate countries. Does he really understand how we former tax payers manage financially, probably not. Some people who live abroad are better off financially than those who have to generally live on the basic state pension and although there are still some advantages of a place in the sun, the gradually increasing cost of living including food, commodities, electricity, petrol etc. have resulted in the £ steSunrling not stretching as much as it did, say 5-10 years ago.

We made our choice the British Government may think, so get on with it. It seems that the withdrawal of the winter fuel allowance will save the British tax payer £17 million a year minimum. The irony of all this is that  EU migrants who choose to go to the UK to live and work are receiving benefits for their children who still live in their native country.  Where is the fairness in this?  Did I work all of those years to provide benefit for others and end up having my own very small benefit stopped?

I remember very many years ago hearing a report that, at that period in time, the current tax payers were providing for the pensioners, but with the changing times, unemployment etc. who would be looking after us when we reached pensionable age? It seems that this time has arrived.

There may be readers who are not aware of this decision so if you would like to read the article in the Mail Online and other news  click here.

As a closing thought, it appears there are 92,983 British citizens living abroad in SpainDavid Cameron, France, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus and Gibraltar who are to have their winter fuel payment stopped, so Mr Cameron and Mr Duncan Smith, £200 per annum does not seem like a huge amount to keep this number of people living abroad. How would the UK cope if 92,983 people decided to return and take up all of the benefits they would be entitled to even if they had to wait a certain length of time for thisIain Duncan Smith entitlement? This new ruling does not include Italy, why?? Ok so the north of Italy experiences cold temperatures so for this reason the British expatriate community in the whole of the country will continue to receive the winter fuel benefit, even in the south of Italy which is on the same latitudes as Greece, Spain and Portugal, this just does not make sense. If new rules are going to be applied it should be right across the board with no exceptions.  See map below.

As a retired UK citizen and former tax payer I object strongly to this decision as a matter of principle.

No Winter Warming Allowance

12 thoughts on “Brits abroad to lose winter fuel allowance

  1. Excellent article and I share your view.

    Ex-pats legally do not qualify for the NHS and now the winter fuel allowance is being withdrawn and we are still expected to pay our income tax.

    It’s scandalous but typical how hard working people in the UK have been treated and will continue to be treated no matter what goveenment is in power.

  2. This is one very emotive topic!
    Personally I agree 100% with your comments re working all your life, no children, never claiming etc Margaret. I had a short spell unemployed and had a couple of spells of sickness from leaving school at 19 but like you we never had children by choice. The benefits paid to mothers, and now fathers with paternity leave, if all added up do not bear thinking about.

    Then there are the benefits paid to immigrants in various forms. Some argue that they do not always receive Unemployment Benefits but they are given housing and there children are educated, they have access to health service facilities etc.

    I stand to be shot down by mentioning maternity & paternity benefits followed by immigrant families because “human rights” are argued to be in play here. But who is paying for all these so called “human rights”? Well it appears people like us are doing so by having our rights withdrawn.

    1. I agree with your comment wholeheartedly and as far as human rights are concerned it seems we don’t qualify.

  3. What a superb article Margaret. I am in the same position as you but without even the small additional pension. I too worked for 50 years and paid my taxes, unlike many wealthier Brits who dodge paying theirs. This is a grossly unfair decision and there are probably many Expats, including me, who are condsidering returning to the UK. This decision simply makes it more likely. It would serve them right if all 92983 of us decide to return, then see how much it would cost them.

  4. I agree whole-heartedly with your letter. I would add that in Cyprus we have the additional problem of the extreme summer where most have costs to cool things down especially as they age and winter, although not as cold in the UK, due to acclimatisation makes us more vulnerable when this cold period starts so the need for heating comes earlier. As expressed in the article SOME places may have central heating but they certainly do NOT have the insulation qualities of house back home and the dampness exuded by the concrete structures just adds to the discomfort without this heating……..

    1. Thank you for your comment. I couldn’t agree more and yes the dampness is a real problem, not much fun getting into a damp bed at night. For the first time in my life, this year, I invested in an electric blanket, don’t know why I didn’t do it before. Of course in a house with central heating this is not a necessity.

  5. I’m 81 years old, Live in a small flat, unheated in Southern Spain, and expected £300 WFA this past Winter. Worked 50 years, including 2 years RAF National Service on 35 pence a day in 1953/55. Once claimed unemployment benefit when foot and mouth desease 1960 approx.and disability benefit after a heart attack in 1982.(Defibrillator fitted in 2001). Otherwise no benefits, but a load of income tax. Now I could move back to freezing UK, and claim Housing Benefit for rent, Council Tax Benefit etc., but unlicensed letting agencies are the biggest rip off still allowed.Their finder’s fees are extortionate, and conditions for ex pats very discriminatory. Rents are almost double that of Southern Spain’s small towns. UK pays a contribution to my excellent free health care, but I pay 10% of Prescription costs for 18 tablets a day. What are health care costs in Italy, doctors, hospitals,prescriptions. I have the idea of living East of Monaco, but over the border in Italy

    1. I am sure there are many people who will agree that after working a lifetime in the UK and deciding to retire to a warmer climate the stopping of the winter fuel allowance is a bit unfair. Here in North Cyprus, as well as other countries the winters can be extremely cold and damp and so heating of some kind is needed and can be very expensive with the high electricity charges. However, we made our choice and were aware of the costs of medication etc. I cannot answer your question about health charges in Italy, you will need to check this out. Try searching on the internet.

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