THOUSANDS of expats could be eligible for a winter fuel payment under the terms of an EU ruling.

The announcement is good news for the estimated 100,000 British pensioners who live in Spain, many of whom are not able to claim the allowance under current laws.

Previously, elderly expats could only receive the payment if they turned 60 before leaving Britain and if they had left after the payment was introduced in 1998.

But expats now only need to have a ‘genuine and sufficient link to the UK’ to qualify, including having ‘lived or worked in the UK for most of your working life’.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice affects around 440,000 elderly Britons who live outside Britain but within the EU.

Anyone born on or before July 5, 1951, can now make a claim for the payment this year, which ranges from £200 to £300 depending on your circumstances.

In the 2010-11 winter, 72,840 expats claimed winter fuel payments, at a cost of almost £16 million – a figure which could rise to £100 million if all of the eligible expats were to claim it.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith called the ruling ‘ludicrous’ and has promised to introduce a ‘temperature test’ to determine eligibility.

86 COMMENTS

  1. From what I have heard all this ruling will mean is no-one in Spain will get a payment this year.
    Yes it does get cold at night in Spain but i am sure IDS will have the tempature test measured in Spain at midday and then compare it to the UK.
    Remember it will be the tempature outside which is measured and not in an ancient freezing house built to keep the heat out.

    IDS like all in the government are looking for ways to save money and this ruling by the EU has answered his prayers.

    So from what I can see the fools are the expats who complained to the EU and not IDS.

  2. This was announced over a week ago and judging by the comments in the UK press a lot of people in the UK want Ex Pats hung drawn and quartered and their pensions withdrawn for being traitors by leaving the UK. Of course I suspect a lot of people making those comments have never paid a penny tax in their lives.

  3. IDS should REALLY be subject to an IQ test to verify IF he is fit to hold any office, EVEN a Public one. What an idiot – when people have PAID for a benefit, they are entitled to have it. Hard for Politicians to understand since that principle of UN-accountability doesn’t seem to apply to their Pension plan, Health benefits, Severance pay when UN-elected, Bonus payments even when their efforts fail or lose taxpayers’ money, substantial Cost Over-runs on programs, ad nauseum…!
    Darn good thing UK Politicians don’t have to GET A REAL JOB.

  4. Why aren’t these payments being back dated? I have lost 10 years of winter allowances even though I was over 60 when I went to live in Spain (I went before September of that year). I argued for quite a few years before finally giving up as the red tape got thicker. If it’s something we should have been entitled to then we are owed!

  5. FYI to other posters –

    After badgering the DWP with letters and phone calls for 3 months after posting them my claim form for this winter, I have now received a letter confirming I will receive a payment for 2012/2013.

    On the subject of back payments, the position is less clear. Firstly I have received legal advice from an on-line EU advice centre that clearly states that the ECJ ruling is retrospective and the DWP should reimburse me for the 6 years of WFA they have denied me.

    However, in a telephone call to the DWP yesterday (19th November) they stated that they do not accept the courts retrospective nature of the ruling. However, in the same breath they also stated they have a new back payment claim form that was created purely as a result of this ruling. They are sending me this form to claim back payments BUT then said that no back payments will be paid anyway.

    Clearly the DWP are playing games with the courts ruling by appearing to adhere to it, but in actuality are frustrating would be claimants for back payments by refusing to pay up.

    As the fat lady said, it isn’t over yet until I sing and meanwhile I’m playing their silly game whilst looking at complaints bodies like the Parliamentary Ombudsman and a EU complaints body.

  6. Hi Mike
    I found your post very interesting as I have just received a letter from DWP rejecting my claim for retrospective payments. The reason given is “You are not entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for this year 2011-12 (and so on…..) This is because your claim was received after 30 March following the winter for which you have claimed.” This seems to me to be another case of the DWP “playing games” as they quite clearly stated we were not elegible to claim for payment in previous years. Are they suggesting that knowing we were not elegible we should still have submitted a claim only to have it rejected on each occasion. Surely not?
    Is it possible for you to post the legal advice you refer to regarding the ECJ ruling about retrospective payments. I am told that I can appeal against the decision which I intend to do and it would very helpful to read the wording of the ruling. For information this also has a time limit of one month from the date of their letter 14 November and received here 30 November. I am running out of time!

  7. After reading this site earlier this year I put in my claim, which I duly received a week or so ago. I have just telephoned The dept to ask WHY I am not being paid for the years before. This ruling come from EU, therefore the Uk had to comply, which means they had denied us this allowance and they were wrong, By paying us now, it proves that argument. I am sure the law in UK was not changed to accomodate us, It was the EU pointing out it was illegal to withold our money.

    I will now rite to the dept and ask for a claim form as the one to download is not the correct form for the years we are talking about. I was 60 in 2004, I have lived here in Spain for 13years.

    L. Holland

  8. Robin – It would seem you got caught by that perverse DWP rule that said you had to claim before September but also be in the country. Researching this in more detail over the last 2 weeks it seems that the WFA was made a portable benefit like the state pension in 2002 but only for those in receipt of it before they they left unlike the state pension. Of course the ECJ ruling this June ensures everyone with substantive links to the UK should get it. Based on the ECJ ruling you should get back payments as well but currently the DWP is refusing to pay out.

    PM – I had understood that the qualifying week rubbish had been removed for this year as it was not possible for every ex-pat to claim in time as the DWP didn’t exactly advertise the changes in WFA. In fact they were very noticeable by their silence in the media and on their useless web site.

    Darran – Although not in possession of the WFA payment yet, I have it in writing that I will be paid this month and was told this Monday it will be transferred to my account this month. Originally the woman fobbed me off with you may have to wait until march but when I insisted I had a letter saying otherwise, she then bothered to check her computer and confirmed the middle of December. If you have sent the claim form back to Sunderland, you should get it but as for when, that’s anyone’s guess. They claim to be overwhelmed by all the ex-pat claims but as I pointed out to them, had they had the sense to pro-actively pay us based on our receiving a state pension, they could have avoided a lot of unnecessary work and grief. Trouble is, common sense and pro-activeness is not a DWP strong point and as for IDS, don’t even get me started. All that BS about cutting benefit fraud and all he’s done is annoy a lot of ex-pats over a very small amount of the benefit costs.

    On the back payments saga I’m still getting the usual stalling tactics by the DWP. Even this Monday on one hand they refuse to accept the retrospective nature of the ECJ ruling but on the other hand, they refuse to put it in writing. I think we all know why ! They are also trying it on by suggesting that because most ex-pats in our situation didn’t put a WFA claim in for previous years, that disqualifies a back payment despite the fact that it would have been rejected anyway under the previous rules. As luck would have it, I did make a ‘test’ claim when I turned 60 (which was rejected) and they know that, but they still keep stalling.

    I’m actually sending them one more letter tomorrow demanding a written response on their refusal to accept the retrospective ruling and then if nothing happens, I’m escalating it upwards both in the UK and the EU.

  9. B ELLIO – Actually I don’t disagree with your statement but that one eyed Scottish chancellor didn’t see it that way. In essence, the WFA was a vote bribe for the public sector that could retire at 60, hence the entitlement began at 60 rather than the state retirement age.

    Then IDS for all of his rhetoric, didn’t have the courage to scrap it, roll it into the state pension and make people wait until state retirement age. If he had, it would be means tested via taxation at no cost in administration from those ‘wonderful’ civil servants in the North.

  10. Ros – Just read your post and heres the response below I got from the EU advice centre at

    [email protected]

    I hope this clarifies matters and why I’m battling the DWP at the moment.

    Regards

    Mike

    ——————————————————–

    Dear Mr. Godfrey,

    Thank you for your enquiry to the Your Europe Advice service.
    In general, judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU have retrospective effect. If the effect of a judgment is to be prospective only, the Court of Justice will specifically state this as happened for the first time in the Defrenne case C-43/75. This was not done in the Stewart case C-503/09. Therefore, in your case, the DWP should be prepared to backdate payment of the WFA to you. Based on the Aberdeen decision of the Court of Justice C-338-347/11 earlier this year, it appears that you should be able to claim retrospectively for at least a period of six years under the Limitation Act 1980.
    I would recommend that you communicate with the DWP again requesting that the back payment be made to you. If this is not done, you should appeal the decision and perhaps refer it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman – “http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/home”
    You should also refer the matter to SOLVIT which is an EU network established to resolve problems caused by misapplication of EU law by public administrations. In your case, you should contact the Spanish SOLVIT service. The service is free of charge. You can obtain contact details and further information concerning SOLVIT on the following website: “www.ec.europa.eu/solvit/”

    I trust that this information is of assistance to you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Your Europe Advice

  11. Hi Mike
    Many thanks for your response. Very helpful and eassuring. I sent my appeal this morning along these lines and will let everyone know if and when I hear anything.
    Still no written confirmation anout this years payment although sent well within their time limits. Reading Darrans posts it seems time to make a personal call.

    Please keep us informed of any progress you make.

    Regads
    Ros

  12. Thank your collective lucky stars that it’s only a winter fuel payment you are fighting D.W.P. for. Try convincing their appointed disability police in the U.K. that you are unfit to work. They will tip you out of your wheelchair and make you crawl to a burger-flipping job before you know it. Oh, and don’t think they’ve forgotten the “scrounging” ex-pats either…

  13. Ros – I forgot to mention previously that one DWP person actually told me to submit a WFA back claim form purely for a matter of record and in the same breath he said they wouldn’t pay it anyway. Of course this form doesn’t exist on their website and I’m still waiting for it to arrive in the mail, but such is the perversity of their twisted mindset. My suspicion is they know they are skating on thin ice over the retrospective nature of the ECJ ruling but have been told by IDS to deny, stall and do anything they can to not pay back payments. They also know that to pay one person out will open a floodgate of other claimants.

  14. Mike – Like you i could not find an appropriate WFA back claim form on their website so I downloaded the one that is available and changed the years myself. The interesting thing is that they have responded to this application and in their letter accepted and referred to my revised claim years without question. Perhaps you might want to consider the same method if you do not receive a form by post.
    As I said before the DWP rejected my claim on the grounds that they had not received the claim at the correct time. They did however give me the right of appeal, albeit with a time limit of one month from the date of the letter for receipt of the appeal in their office. This is the stage I am at now. If or rather when the DWP have to accept the ECJ ruling and pay the back payments I did not want to be told that I am not elegible because I hadnt registered an appeal within their timescale. There is a leaflet GL24 on their website that explains the procedure of appeals and also includes the appropriate appeal form. Keep in touch.

  15. If nothing else I think the experience of many of us at the hands of the DWP shows they’re in headless chicken mode over the ECJ ruling with one hand not knowing what the other hand is doing or saying and the only consistency is their refusal to pay back payments.

    From my dealings with them over the past 4 months they have refused point blank to put in writing their position over the retrospective nature of the ECJ ruling whether to agree with it or to reject it. One would have thought that with their highly trained legal team (their words, not mine) they could interpret the ECJ judgment and make such a statement but apparently not.

    Ros – I’ll follow your lead and use that old back payments form, change the dates, send it off as a test and see what lame excuse comes back.

  16. Hi Ros &Mike
    We are in the same canoe as you – retired here before aged 60 – what I think I will do is download the claim form and amend as appropriate – that means 4 forms for each of us for missing years and send them in separately – will see what happens – will let you know – maybe if enough of us do this who knows !!!!

    Ginge

  17. Hi Ginge, I think the more people that apply for back payments the more they DWP will realize its something they can’t brush under the carpet but I don’t expect results any time soon.

    When I applied for the WFA after I turned 60 in Spain the DWP responded in the same manner and it took over 3 months before I managed to ‘extract’ the the legal opt out clauses that allowed them to not pay WFA previously. Now with a legal ruling that looks certain to be on our side they seem to be going all out to ignore it but at the same time refusing to put it in print let alone justify it.

  18. Good old DWP! They do try don’t they. I have just finished a 3 year battle with them over attendance allowance and Carers allowance for my 89 year old parents and myself. Guess what, every step of the way they rejected the claims. They initially rejected the claims on the grounds that we lived in Spain. Then they quoted the six months in the previous year resident in the UK to qualify. Despite taking over a year from the ECJ ruling to notify us. Eventually went to Independent Arbitration. 1 week before the hearing they folded. Now they seem to be trying again. As far as I understand the Lucy Stewart case the UK was in breach of the original treaty signed by the member states, allowing free passage without penalty. The ECJ ruling IS retrospective as proven by my case. We shall now be pursuing my wifes claim for this year and the previous 4 years. Don’t give up keep pushing!.

  19. Clive,

    you’ve got that right about the DWP as they certainly do try to avoid paying up legitimate claims and even against a court ruling. After 4 weeks, I finally received the elusive back payments claim form WFP2(EEA)from the DWP that covers years 2000/01 to 2011/12 but the strange thing was the accompanying letter only talked about claiming WFA and not back payments. Yet another example of failing to put in writing what they tell you over the phone in case its “self incriminating”. Good job I record my calls !

    Both however do state that you have to claim WFA by March 30th for the preceding year which sort of nullifies the point of the form. The implication is that if you claim afterwards its only valid for the next winter onwards. Of course these are weasel words as most ex-pats not in receipt of WFA would not have made a WFA claim at 60 knowing they were ineligible for the WFA under other rules. This could be used as a basis to refute that time limit rule as the recent ECJ ruling was retrospective and so should the time limit rule be waived.

    In my particular case, fortuitously I did make a WFA claim after I turned 60 and they know full well I have a record of that as I have the rejection letter. Consequently I’m pursuing my claim on the basis that I met their rules on the ‘time limit’ despite being refused WFA for other reasons. I’m sending this new form back to them after Xmas to see what next set of weasel words they’ll dream up.

    I won’t give up and they should know that by now as I’ve had 2 previous run ins with them over their incompetence and it just ends up costing them a lot of time/money to fix their self created problems.

    I have a couple of pointers to pursue this elsewhere but could you point me to the process for independent arbitration.

    Thanks

    Mike

  20. Mike,
    I was pusuing Attendance allowance and carers allowance, but it all comes under the same rulings.

    I found that
    1. you claim
    2. they reject it.
    3. you appeal.
    4. they send it to a “decision Maker” who rejects it.
    5. see 3
    6. see 4

    get the idea!

    then when you are thoroughly peed off you request that they send your claim to arbitration. This can take several weeks/months.

    But I did attend 1 and the judge handed me the award in our favour. At the 11th hour the DWP backed down ang agreed the claim. I still had to chase the same procees for my carers allowance and got the same response. But I then wrote an email to IDC requesting he explained what was going on. Surprise surprise 2 weeks later a call from DWP agreeing my claim, backdated as well

    Clive

  21. Hi, all,

    And the increasing incompetence in that part of the UK called the DWP continues unrelentingly.

    Back in August 2012 my wife and I under instructions from the DWP each filled out a WFA claim form for 2012/2013 naming each other as spouse at the same address. We were told to do this as we each would get £100 rather than one of us getting £200. This we did for all the use it accomplished.

    A letter from the DWP in October stated that I would receive £200 in December but no mention of £100 each. In mid December my wife receives £200 in our joint account followed by two more letters from the DWP in the same post delivery. The first to my wife states she’s entitled to WFA and will receive payment even though she already had been paid 2 weeks previously. My letter said I was NOT entitled to WFA as I was not in receipt of WFA prior to leaving the UK. Obviously that unnamed bozo at the DWP had not read the ECJ ruling.

    Bear in mind I had already received a letter in October saying I would get it and sure enough, on 30th December I also got £200 as well. No doubt they’ll ask for it back some time but thats for them to ask and me to respond in kind.

    Of course there’s still the matter of 7 years back payments unresolved and I’ll suggest that the extra £200 be used as part payment of that but it beggars belief of the sheer incompetence at the DWP.

    Happy New Year everyone and lets hope we might see some back payments soon.

  22. I was told that under the new asset declaration in Spain that state pensions and I would presume state benefits do not have to be declared as an asset as they are ‘temporary’ benefits in their parlance. As far as a taxable benefit from income then I suppose they should be declared as income much the same as the Xmas 10 pound payment. I’d check with a tax expert and make an ‘informed’ decision on what to do.

  23. Hi All,

    I have just found this site whilst looking for info on the EU directive re WFA. I received the payment for 2012/13 and completed the forms I subseqently received from the DWP for the previous 6 years and understand from a telephone conversation with the DWP that my claim and appeal has been rejected, that was several weeks ago and I still have not received the letter they said they had sent to me! I originally applied for the WFA in 2007, was rejected, appealed and even wrote to 10 Downing Street on the subject.

    I live in Lanzarote and do not always receive my mail, but the DWP refuse to send copies by email (security issues!) but they do not need to include any personal information!

    I wonder therefore if any of the previous contributors on this site have had any success with back-dating appeals?

    Any information regarding other peoples’ experiences will be appreciated.

    Gill

  24. Gill,

    Firstly, do not expect any response from the DWP in a timely manner as they take on average a month to draft a reply and then that letter goes into some EU collection centre to be sent out once a month. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to with the repeatedly tardy responses I’ve had from them.

    As an example of their incompetence, a friend of mine on the Costa Blanca had them ring up last week because they hadn’t had a reply from him over some issue they’d posted to him. On the phone, predictably they refused to discuss what the issue is so his still in the dark. Turns out the area where he lives is St Llucia as is mine and for some inexplicable reason they thought that St Llucia, Costa Blanca, Alicante, Spain was a Caribbean Island. Go figure ?

    Anyway I digress, back to your claim for previous winters.

    I too claimed for WFA in 2005 when I turned 60 and was refused it under the old rules. I then made a back payments claim in August 2012 in a letter due to the retrospective nature of the Stewart ruling in the European Court of Justice. There was no claim form as there wasn’t one in existence then but that ruling gave us WFA for 2012/13 going forward and was retrospective in nature. Initially the DWP refused to countenance paying it stating that they didn’t recognize the court ruling on retrospective action but when I asked to put that in writing, they refused. Draw your own conclusions as to why not.

    What happened next was in October 2012, they created a brand new claim form for past winters (WFP2(EEA) 10/12) which had caveats of ‘qualifying periods’ that would disallow a back payment to be made. This form never existed previously for ex-pats as we weren’t allowed to claim anyway after emigrating but it was done to frustrate back payment claims from people like us. By this time, they had dropped the “we don’t recognize retrospective rulings” stance as they believed this new form would block claimants.

    The DWP rejected my reasoned argument in January and in February I appealed against their decision on the following grounds. In my case, I made two claims for WFA one in 2005 for the winter of 2005/6 going forward and then a claim for back payments in 2012, both of which were made before this new claim form they created in October 2012. My point was the claim form can not be used retrospectively to block my earlier claims as it never existed at that time.

    As of last night night I hadn’t received any communication from them despite 2 emails in the past 2 weeks and out of frustration last Sunday, I contacted ‘Solvit’ an EU type ombudsman that deals with legal issues like ours. (Google solvit.com)

    Coincidentally or otherwise, I actually got an email from the DWP this morning stating the following –

    “We have prepared a response to your appeal, which gives the reasons for our decision. A copy was posted to you today and also to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). HMCTS will contact you when they receive the response to explain what happens next”.

    As you found out, they refuse to put anything in an email so I haven’t the foggiest what their decision is. I suspect its another rejection but I’m hoping that Solvit with their legal people can pressure the DWP to comply with the spirit and ruling of the ECJ judgement as up till now, they haven’t.

    I apologize for this long dialogue but it gives you an idea of the problems many of us experience at the hands of the DWP in Newcastle.

    My advice is to follow up with ‘Solvit’ explaining that you claimed in 2007 long before the form (WFP2(EEA) 10/12) came into being and therefore it shouldn’t be used to deny you back payments.

    The key point is that the DWP is just playing lip service to back payments by creating this form as they have no intention of paying any as the conditions laid down prevent it. Back in October time, one of the guys at the DWP stated to me I can fill it in and send it back, but I still wont get it anyway as they don’t accept the ruling.

    Its nothing but a stalling tactic to try and block people claiming for previous years and personally, I doubt its legal in our cases. I’ve been at this since last August but I’m not giving up.

    Good luck to you and maybe the more of us that badger the DWP the sooner they’ll see reason.

  25. Boulder – great comment.

    I never knew I was entitled to WFA at age 60. I only claimed my State pension last year and stupidly thought that the WFA would be automatically paid.

    Just think how many civil servants are engaged in this stonewalling and how much it costs.

    When I downloaded the State pension claim forms I think there were around 37 pages – too simple to differentiate between British born citizens and those of other origins.

  26. Stuart, for your own good NEVER make any assumptions that the DWP will look after your interests because they don’t. Part of it is incompetence and part of it I believe is a deliberate policy of reducing the benefits bill.

    Even for UK residents, its a well established fact that there are probably 10%-20% of pensioners who aren’t aware of what they can claim for and they lose out as a result.

    I can understand why people would think that they’d automatically get the WFA when they turn 65 as they are in receipt of the state pension although now of course, ex-pats should get the WFA at 60 the same as everyone else.

    This perverse attitude at the DWP in the case of ex-pats receiving state pensions, is that they know we are alive, where we live and that we are eligible for WFA, but they still demand that 37 page claim form to be filled in despite already having all the information.

    The irony of all these forms that the DWP demand we fill in, is that my wife and I ended up receiving two lots of WFA for 2012/13 instead of 100 pounds each. I brought this to their attention recently so they can recover 200 GBP but how that will happen is up to them as I’m not paying for extraneous costs in transferring 200 GBP back to them for their mistakes.

    The bottom line is to keep on our toes on entitlements and keep the pressure on Newcastle to deliver.

  27. Mike,
    thanks for all your enormous and welcome input on WFA.

    Now compare this with life for a pensioner in the Netherlands – you are forced by law to pay into a private pension along with your employer, so you retire with a State pension as well, which means that you receive 90% of your final salary.

    It’s worth noting that Dutch pension investment vehicles are not allowed to ramp up charges so that the same investment earns 3 x the amount of a UK one.

    This of course means that WFA, rent rebates, income top-ups simply are’nt needed in the Netherlands – how wonderfully simple and cost effective.

    I don’t in any way blame the staff who administer this nasty and ultimately expensive blocking system. However if they refused to administer it at all, it would collapse,which is probably what is nec. before something better can emerge.

    We all know of the billions and billions wasted on computer systems for the NHS/flight control etc. and the £68 billion + on tax avoidance which if eliminated or never happened in the first place could mean that western Europe’s meanest State pension could be raised and this whole WFA simply would’nt need to exist.

  28. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your detailed reply to my post. I typed quite a lengthy update last night but it disappeared when I tried to send it and a message came up that the site was unavailable, so I will keep this fairly brief in case it happens again.

    I rang the DWP again on 8 May and was told someone would call me back the following day, which they did – Lisa. I explained everything again, and as these conversations are supposedly recorded, I make sure I go through everything for the record! Anyway, I told Lisa I still had not received the letter they allegedly sent on 22 April. She said based on my phone calls they have now sent my appeal to the Tribunal Appeals team and I don’t need to put anything more in writing at this stage, but they will write to me!!!

    I told her I will ring again in 2 weeks if I do not receive a letter.

    I agree with your comments on this issue and intend contacting Solvit if I do not receive a letter by the end of next week.

    It must have cost a fortune sending out the forms for back-dating to those who successfully applied for the 2012/13 payment and for them to deal with the phone calls and correspondence as a result!

    Anyway, I will leave it at that for now and check for updates from other people on this site.

    Gill

  29. Stuart, I know it might seem unfair to blame the front line troops at the DWP but there’s been no consistency on responses to back payments of WFA, goal posts move all the time and it takes a minimum of a month before you might receive a reply.

    As of today, I still haven’t had the response they promised me previously and I’ve ratcheted it another notch by emailing Ian Duncan Smith personally. As it stands right now, I’m oblivious on the result of my appeal, Solvit have been involved for about 10 days so far and IDS also. Maybe rattling a few cages will get a result.

    Mike

  30. Gill, on the face of it, you seem to be making some progress but being rather pessimistic over the DWP, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. I hope she does soon as my gut feeling is they are trying to hold back a flood of claims against a legal ruling in the ECJ and they don’t want to set a precedent.

    Mike

  31. This is my second attempt to type this post, I don’t think it’s my computer but I always seems to have a problem with the speed and losing the content I have typed on this site!

    Anyway, you are right Mike, I received an ambiguous letter today from the IPC, dated 22 April 2013, which reads:

    “Dear Mrs Ranby

    About your Winter Fuel Payment

    Thank you for the appeal received at this office on 16 April 2013.

    When the claim for 2006/2007 was disallowed the law on entitlement was applied correctly. The subsequent decision of the court on 21 July 2011 is not binding retrospectively and therefore there are no grounds to reconsider this disallowance.

    In the case of the recent decisions for the years 2007/2008 and 2011/2012 the claim has to be made by 30 March of the year following that which you wished to claim for. This time requirement did not change following the 2011 Court Judgement. Your claim form was received on 14 March 2013 consequently these claims were disallowed on grounds of lateness.

    Regulation 4(1) of the Social Fund Regulations 2000 confers the power but not the duty to make a Winter Fuel Payment without a claim. Regulation 4(1) can only be relied on to make a payment where it appears from official records that the person is entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment. It is up to the person themselves to make a claim.

    Your appeal has now been passed to our Appeals Team who will write to you regarding the Tribunal process.

    If you want more information about anything in this letter, please get in touch with us. The phone number and address are at the top of this letter.

    Yours sincerely
    Carole Davison
    Winter Fuel”

    So!!! Ambigous or not! I claimed for 2006/07 which they now seem to be accepting, but then go on to speak of 2011/12, which would have been ongoing if they had accepted my 2006/07 claim!

    Will have to see what happens next!

    Gill

  32. I have had my claim for back years also referred to the tribunal. I told them I would not stop sending the claim forms in, they kept sending back the same reply. too late etc.
    I first tried to claim in 2005/6 and I was turned down, I appealed and was turned down again, this is what I am basing my claims on, I did try to claim and was in time. I await with baited breath. Will let you know when and IF I get a reply.

    Lillian

  33. Lillian, It looks like we’re all in a similar boat as today I received a letter from HM Courts & Tribunal Services about my appeal. True to form even they got it wrong as the letter refers to my ‘Income Support Appeal’ which is something I’ve never claimed for in my life let alone appeal on. I can only assume the ‘poor dears’ got confused and thought my WFA back payments appeal was about Income Support but why is anyone’s guess. Go figure !

    Anyway, I filled in the form and added a cover letter pointing out their mistakes and asked for a personal appearance slot for when I’m in the UK next. Whether they’ll go for it or rule in my absence remains to be seen.

    One telling aspect is the number of appeals they are being inundated with as to quote them from their letter “We are currently dealing with a very high volume of appeals and are working hard to reduce the response time”. The DWP is certainly making a rod for their own backs and people are no longer willing to accept wooly responses from Newcastle that try to deny a benefit, hence the high appeal levels. At this rate, the admin costs will soon exceed the costs of paying back payments but that’s their problem.

    As I mentioned previously, I’m not just relying on the UK appeals process but have contacted SOLVIT to help me in addition to a letter to IDS.

    I’ll continue my updates for all as they occur.

    Mike

  34. Gill,

    Re your post on May 15th regarding the retrospective nature of the Stewart case.

    As I posted previously, initially the DWP were adamant that they did not regard the ECJ ruling as being retrospective and they used that as the reason for not paying back payments. When I pressed them further and asked for it in writing they refused, so I supplied them with the legal advice I received from Your Europe Advice (see below). They then changed their position and no further mention was made of retrospective law to me and I believe its because they knew that position wouldn’t stand up in law. Then in October 2012, they brought out the new back payments claim form to try and block back payments using this qualifying period nonsense. However, its my understanding that retrospective rules/laws like this new back payments claim form should not or cannot be used to disadvantage a person who would be entitled to payments prior to the new rules. In effect, this claim form is only prospective and not retrospective as it can disadvantage claimants if retrospective in nature.

    Personally, I believe a claim for a benefit is valid in the absence of an official claim form but especially so as the form didn’t exist previously. I’d argue that a simple letter requesting back payments as a result of the retrospective court ruling should be sufficient to lodge a claim notwithstanding claim forms being created long after the event.

    Anyway, here was the legal advice I received.

    “Thank you for your inquiry to the Your Europe Advice service.

    In general, judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU have retrospective effect. If the effect of a judgment is to be prospective only, the Court of Justice will specifically state this as happened for the first time in the Defrenne case C-43/75. This was not done in the Stewart case C-503/09. Therefore, in your case, the DWP should be prepared to backdate payment of the WFA to you. Based on the Aberdeen decision of the Court of Justice C-338-347/11 earlier this year, it appears that you should be able to claim retrospectively for at least a period of six years under the Limitation Act 1980. ”

    Mike

  35. I emailed the DWP on 20 May, also sent a copy of the email in the post 22 May, no reply to either. Today, I spoke to someone in the WF dept, called Dale (who had an attitude problem!) He said as my appeal has gone to the Tribunal I will just have to wait for them to write to me. I asked for contact details and he said it could be an office anywhere in the UK so not able to give me any further information.

    Has anyone else had any results from their appeal?

    Gill

  36. I had a letter telling me that my appeal would be heard in Newcastle in about 2 months, I was asked if I wanted to attend or have someone represent me. I said No to both, I have since received a letter from the WF dept, with all the information they are putting forward as to why I should not get back payments, also all the correspondence from me , stating why I should. They are quoting two cases, one from Swansea and the other from Liverpool that shows there case. They state they have no record of my application in 2005 or my appeal against that decision, They actually telephoned me at that time and the lady that rang told me she was horrified that I cvould not claim, yet someone from another counrty could turn 60 get WF leave the country and still receive it for life, but I could not. They of course have no record of that.

    I will keep you up to date on what happens next, and if anyone has any advice for me I would be grateful.

    Lillian Holland

  37. Hi Lillian,

    Thanks for your update. I will phone the DWP again in 2 weeks unless I hear anything in the meantime. Amazing that when you ring them you get the message that calls are recorded but they don’t have a record of the calls! Dale, who I spoke to today was most unhelpful. We will just have to stay with it!

    Gill

  38. Just found this site & also having problems with the DWP.
    I applied for WF payment when I reached 60 & it was refused as I moved to Spain before the qualifying age.After I applied for it this year I got a letter saying I was not entitled to it & write to them if I wanted t know why. So I rang them & they said they had made a mistake & sent it, I contacted the complaints Dept & they agreed if I hadn’t Queried the letter I wouldn’t have received it & apologized.

    I have been battling the DWP for over 2 years now over the bereavement payment & after going through all the appeals to just receiving the finding from HM courts & tribunals.From my experience they are all useless, the HM C&T service has no powers & will just agree or not with your circumstances, totally pointless.

    From what I’ve read the parliamentary Ombudsman has the power to overturn DWP nonsense & shown case histories look as if common sense & fairness is used in their decisions. The problem is you have to lodge your complaint with an MP to get to the PO & living abroad you don’t have one, sent them an email asking how I can proceed as I’m not giving up.

  39. Hi Gill thanks for the up-date & please post the outcome with the HMCT, I have just dealt with them & the response from them was negative also worth noting they have no powers to in enforcing their decisions. In fact I found their services to b e pointless & you may have to pursue your case with those who can overturn DWPs nonsense
    .

  40. I’m currently at the appeal process with the Courts and Tribunal Service but as yet I don’t know when my case might be heard.

    Changing the subject slightly, some friends of mine in Spain received a letter from the DWP stating that they needed confirmation of the IBAN or BIC number of their Spanish bank for state pension payments. The strange thing was they have been receiving their pensions for many years now without any grief but the wife received this letter whilst the husband didn’t. She duly rang the DWP and gave them her IBAN number and (you guessed it) the next pension payment failed to arrive on its due date. She rang them up and found out they had completely the wrong IBAN number but their response was for her to chase her Spanish bank to find out where the money went rather than them sort it out. They also said that until they get the money back she wont see her pension.

    I’ve not received a letter yet but if I do, I want written confirmation of the IBAN number thats on their files as I’ve received my state pension without any problems so far.

    Has anyone else received a letter about bank numbers ?

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