New legislation is in the making that will lead to thousands of British expat pensioners losing their handout from the British government for winter fuel allowances for 2015-16. The move is set to try and cut down on the huge amounts of handouts that go out to expats who now live abroad in warmer countries and do not need the extra fuel to keep warm in winter.
Introducing a Temperature Test
The idea is to instigate a ‘temperature test’ – this will mean that expats living in countries where the average temperature is above the average temperature of the warmest part of the UK will no longer be eligible to claim. Put simply, if you live in a country that doesn’t get too cold in the winter, you logically then do not need winter fuel allowance. The paper suggested that this change in legislation is going to affect British pensioners who have retired in Cyprus, France, Portugal and Spain, Malta and Greece. These people will no longer be able to claim fuel allowance from September 2015 onwards. However, pensioners who have settled in 25 countries all over Europe that suffer freezing temperatures in winter will still be able to claim.
Easing the Burden of British Tax Payers
This legislation has come in the wake of handouts that have cost UK taxpayers a whopping £130 million over the last 10 years. Winter fuel allowance in itself grants around £200 to people over 62, and this goes up to £300 for people over 80. The idea of the allowance is to give pensioners some help with paying their winter heating bills, so it arrives in the form of a single sum which, once received, will hopefully be put towards people keeping warm through the winter. However, due to certain EU rules governing expats’ links with their home countries, some pensioners living abroad can claim winter fuel allowance too – and there is no rule stating that the payout must be spent on heating bills.
Spain Tops the Bill for Handout Claims
At the moment, it is reported that there is about £22 million annually leaving Britain and going to expats scattered all around Europe, even though a third of these who have retired abroad have settled in much warmer climates. Figures show that the top country for expats to claim government handouts from is Spain, where expats claim £8.7 million annually, and second comes Ireland with £5.5 million, followed by France at £5.1 million and then Cyprus with £1.4 million. So the legislation comes as a welcome break for the British taxpayer, who will no longer be helping fund heating payments to those enjoying sunny, warm winter weather.