BRITISH pensioners on the Costa del Sol are set to be frozen out by new winter fuel allowance regulations.
The UK currently spends more than €28 million a year on winter fuel allowances for people living elsewhere in Europe.
But those pensioners living in sunnier climes will now be losing taxpayer-funded help with their heating bills.
Spain is home to more claimants than anywhere else in the world – more than 50,000 – and cost the UK €11,201,000 last winter.
Work and Pensions Secretary for the UK Iain Duncan Smith, said: “Winter fuel payments exist to help Britain’s pensioners keep themselves warm.
“It’s absurd and offensive that taxpayers are funding these payments for people who have retired to the Mediterranean and enjoy warmer weather.”
The allowance is designed as a flat sum to help pensioners pay their heating bills. The over-62s can claim at least €250, which rises to €384 for the over-80s.
But ministers are introducing a ‘temperature test’, to stop payments being made to countries where the average annual temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK – the South West at 5.6 degrees.
This means that pensioners in Spain, as well as those in France, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Cyprus, will be unable to receive help heating their homes.
This test is planned to cut the UK’s bill from €29.5 million to €9 million.
British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted at the last election that he would not allow the winter fuel allowance to be slashed, despite protests from both Labour and the Lib Dems.
Lib Dem Deputy PM Nick Clegg said last year: “The fact that we’re asking people on low incomes to pay through their taxes to basically pay the fuel bills of people who don’t need to heat their homes because they live in sunny parts of Europe and maybe didn’t even work here before they retired, I think that lifts the lid on a wider problem in our welfare system.”