30 Dec, 2014 @ 15:00
1 min read

British pensioners in Spain to be frozen out by cuts to winter fuel allowance

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.”

Imogen Calderwood

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  1. With the stroke of his pen IDS reduces Spain to a strip of land called the Costa del Sol. I live in what used to be part of Spain before IDS re drew the boundaries called Granada 100 km from the coast and it has been freezing for the past couple of weeks, however I don’t care about losing the winter fuel allowance £200 is a small price to pay to get Daily Mail readers off my back.

  2. Well said Peter,
    I used to live in Guadix and it is noted for it’s crisp cold dry winters.

    IDS is known to be a few bricks short of a wall, as well as ideology driven, so the fact that inland Spain has a totally different climate (Continental) to the Med. climate of the coast means nothing to him.

    I now live in France/Aveyron and we have had -3C for a number of nights now.Today the daytime temp. is 3C.

    Is’nt it strange not, that Italy is exempted from these cuts. Only 38,000 Brits live there, overwhelmingly in Tuscany/Piedmont – both extremely expensive places to live – now where is it that the rich friends of IDS have second homes – no need to guess is there!

  3. That’s nothing. Wait till you see what Nosferatu does to expat state pensions, if and when Britain is dragged from E.U. membership. IDS is simply a willing tool of those in power, who are systematically dismantling the Welfare State bit by bit.

  4. and pandering to his rich friends with homes in Italy. Do you really still believe after all the Tories have done to enrich themselves over the last few years that they give a damn what Joe Punter thinks. Come to that the pink Tories don’t care either.

  5. The UK government might do well to consider the overall effect of any withdrawals of any payments to pensioners living overseas. When things get tough, many have returned to the UK to place a far higher burden on the UK system.

    This allowance being discussed is not necessarily used by pensioners to warm their homes; it may well be used to cool them when temperatures in some places far exceed those considered acceptable or indeed tolerable by UK residents in their homes, schools & workplaces.

  6. Whether right or wrong, as Bryan says, it is a popular decision in the UK, but personally £200 would not stop me moving abroad if I wanted to, and there are many on forums who bang on about the low cost of living in Spain and elsewhere so it shouldn’t make a difference to them. That olive wood burns bright and hot in wood burners up in them thar hills above Malaga and there’s plenty of it.

    IDS or IBS as he’s known is on a different planet to most people but then most in Government are!

    They need to concentrate on the big money and cut foreign aid to many countries including of all places North Korea, whaaaat?

  7. Most of the pensioners abroad have paid 35 -40 yrs into the system why should they not be entitled to it.The government would rather hand out money to people dumping themselves on the Uk,who have never paid a penny

  8. Agree with a lot said on here. It maybe warm in the day but temperatures fall in the evenings, which is relevant, not all homes are warm because they do not all have the sun into them and we need to heat our homes. Utility Bills are getting higher here every year, and older pensioners feel the cold more than the younger ones. It is a lot colder in the mountains, where more often than not there is snow. On the coast the winds are very cold and bitter. We do not have wall to wall carpeting, just cold tiles. Many have worked many years to have to , opportunity to live in Spain While they can, but expenses are going up here too. At some point a lot will return to UK, a lot already have, because their pensios

  9. because their pensions from UK are not enough to live on here, so it will back fire eventually. If UK stopped sending money to other countries, there would be enough for their own people who should come first. How many retired people with money do not take
    their pensions, including those at Westminster.??

  10. I know people living in golf course modern builds in Andalucia slightly inland as well as others in fincas and their homes are poorly insulated ( well, in fact, no insulation) and they are colder than most UK homes in Winter, wood burners and/or expensive electric heating and calor gas bottles for those smelly mobile gas heaters. Then again, they are expensive to cool down with air-con in Summer.

    Much warmer generally on the coastal strip than inland.

    Yes, Chalkie, the UK should stop huge aid to third world countries with Space programmes, (India, Brazil, China) and stop handing aid out to that idiot in North Korea, it won’t stop because it’s to win infrastructure, arms, oil etc etc contracts.

  11. Surprised to hear of this being a “popular measure” in the UK – I’ve never heard anyone mention it! Ok, so I may spend half my time in Spain on business matters, but honestly it’s not something I hear people speak about in the UK.

  12. Hot. Cold. Fair Unfair. None of that comes into it. W.F.A. is a political football for the anti-benefits/pro-austerity con-men. Softly softly catch the monkey, that’s how it’s done. Bit by bit till there’s nowt left but a paupers funeral. As Joni Mitchell and others have said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone”

  13. Anyone heard of means testing???
    There are people in UK with huge incomes and
    massive houses to whom £200/300 is a negligable
    amount andnot needed. As there are also expats
    living in luxurious villas. What about those ‘dodging’
    the system and having house in uk but not actually
    living in it? They can still claim the allowance.
    Some expats havebought inland as unaffordable on
    the coast and it does get as cold, if not colder than
    some parts of the uk in winter.
    But the above reasons are but a few why people want to escape
    the insane politics of the UK

  14. a like to put in my tuppence worth – I am a 76 yr old pensioner and have paid my due in taxes and I wish someone would wake up to the fact that not all expats live on the coastal regions, I live in a small town just west of Granada
    and the temperature on my patio this morning was -2 degrees
    and as already been pointed out Spanish homes are poorly insulated so I have to pay out fore gas bottles and wood
    pellets so we are not all in the warm areqw!

  15. Whilst we might have warm sunny days the nights are very cold here where I live in the Catalunya area of Spain. We can see the snow on the Pyranees and the wind is very cold from that direction.I believe if it is going to be introduced the fairer system would be region by region as that is how they are calculating from the UK ie measuring the temperature against the southern area.

  16. Just to clarify I am not the 76 yr old living in Granada? I am the Bryan with a capital B.

    A couple of thousand comments in the Mail says stopping the payment for expats is popular in the UK. Also in the Times and Telegraph similar. Can’t say I have heard anyone SAY anything about it, wouldn’t be important/interesting enough to come into conversation with friends.

  17. It’s very clearly a political move rather than anything else. What might be fairer would be to stop ALL winter payments to EVERYONE & those that can prove their need will get something on “Benefits” which vast numbers seem to get in the UK these days. Of course that would likely mean those outside the UK would get nothing at all so their option might be to return (see my earlier post) & then they’ll get all the allowances going including subsidized housing or even cars (as I know some have been awarded), discounts on their electric bills & house taxes etc. etc. Talk about a nanny State. To take such a puny amount (not so puny to some) off folks who’ve moved away saves the government virtually nothing in the grand order of thing. As suggested above, it’s a political move which may well go down with those sitting smugly in their subsidized lives in the UK.

  18. Well, we send £12 billion a year to other Countries and Cameron wants to make that a law,0.7% of GDP P.A. We send £5 billion in benefits abroad to people who do not live in the UK, only their partners. It seems to be that you only have to get some minimum wage paid job in the UK to take home thousands extra with working tax credits, family allowance etc if you have kids who live anywhere in the EU. Then give loans to EU students of billions a year who you never see again or they do not even start their degrees but take the loans… So what is the best way to save money, it should be to cut out most of the above, not WFA. Next will be means testing all other allowances including buss passes and TV after the election. In Spain if you have not paid into the system for 2 continuous years there are no benefits and then they stop after a limited time, hospitals have restrictions as well. They could have easily cut some of the above and the WFA, is and was a drop in the ocean compared to the billions we waste on a regular basis. All this taking in all comers to the UK is starting to affect many other things. If we did not make it so easy we would not have thousands running riot in Calais, make it more unattractive. A shift for a locom A & E Doctor costs £1.5k. It is only going to get worse as no-one seems to do anything, the existing politicians have had nearly 5 years, labour would be not better… Wrong policies in place.

  19. This move could be the final straw for some expats living in the hills on the CDS, having virtually lost decent tv or having to pay for expensive box to receive it, very poor internet connection, no landline, having to collect mail from a town newsagent, heavy gas bottle collection from town etc, it’s not turning out to be the shangri-la of cheap easy living in the sun that they thought it would. All taken for granted in the UK.

  20. Mike, do you mean to say everything isn’t wonderful in expat land. Many write of it as shangril-la. Everything is so cheap they won’t miss 200 quid will they. HaHa

  21. Reap, very good post indeed.

    Of course the PC (political crap) crowd will say your a racist/little englander bla bla bla.

    The WFA is like a super lens into the utter dysfunction of the UK.

    Education is the foundation of any successful society – it has been used a political football for well over 50 years. Care of the elderly or lack of it shows just how civilised and humane a society is or not!

    Why does the UK not have a living pension that eradicates at a stroke all the horrendous bureaucracy and the hundreds of thousands employed to administer this failed system of ‘handouts’ because of the lowest (by a margin) pension in Europe.

    Mike,s comments on Spanish construction are spot on but why did so many of you buy these rubbish built properties. Yes to be comfortable you have to spend serious money to keep warm in winter and reasonably cool in summer.

    Yes I’m sure that the day is rapidly approaching when many Brits will be forced to move back to the UK – lots and lots of money to be made for all those privatised services – ‘their plan is working out wonderfully for ‘them’.

    The WFA – from little acorns grow?

  22. Lowest pension in Europe? Depends what you calculate. Ask some of the Spanish what they get , some around €500pm. The average in Andalucia is less than €800. There are no top ups like pension credit, council tax and rent rebates, free dental, prescriptions. The only ones in Spain on decent pensions are the ex public sector workers.

  23. The Brits have the lowest pension in Europe? Surely you’re only talking about the state pension, not taking into account work and private schemes? It’s true that the Spanish pension is far higher, but only if there are enough years of contribution.

  24. Politicians going for easy prey, it looks good, it appeals to the selfish daily mail brigade (who might be thinking of voting for UKIP) – the truth is If politicians didn’t complain about the super rich and large international companies avoiding tax whilst making it actually easier for them to avid tax Britain would be in a much better state.

    We all know that the politicians of all hues will when they retire or get chucked out wil be getting very well paid jobs as directors or advisers with these ppl (in the real world it would be called bribery and corrution) – cannot see them doing a bit of gardening or painting and decorating for any pensioner

  25. Marion,
    the basic State pension in the UK is about £115 per week, so less than the average you quote for Andalucia.

    UK rent rebates – only because there are no State controls on rents like the rest of Europe. We rented a 3 bedroom apartment in Guadix @ €250 per month, in Sussex that would have been £800/€1000 per month and that was 14 years ago.

    Free dental treatment – you have to be joking. I had a great dentist in Guadix (trained in the US, her mother was American) I was charged €1100 for work that would have cost over £4,500 in the UK and here in France it would have been double that.

    Council tax, the Spanish equivalent would have been 25% of that in the UK. So your argument simply does’nt stand up does it.

  26. Reap, you are spot on in everything you say. Retired British pensioners living in spain have paid into the UK tax system all their working lives and lose this benefit they have already paid for and yet people from abroad who have paid nothing into the UK system get all sorts of generous benefits immediately. This is due to be changed but as things stand at the moment, the system is staggeringly unjust and discriminates against British expats in Spain. The EU is not a level playing field and people are sick of it.

    No wonder there is so much anger but I don’t think Labour would reverse it, in fact they would probably introduce means testing.

  27. People are hoping for doom on here (most who live in the uk) just when Spain is on the up slightly (fourth consecutive period of growth).

    At least you can remember the good old sunnier days when you didn’t live in the yUK.

    We’re in the EUROZONE btw too, so pensioners having paid into the system are OWED small things like WFA.


  28. I notice 55,000 goes to Gibralter….Sincé that is regarded (by the British Government) as a part of Britain I wonder if that also is going to be cut.

    IDS and Clegg are both prize clowns simply pandering to DM readers before the election. Away from the coast, and certainly north of Madrid the winters are far worse than the UK…A geography lesson for these two wouldn’t go amiss to teach them that Spain consists of rather more than the Costa del Sol.

    They sould pay more attention to the scandalous waste of the foreign aid Budget….The WFA was introduced decades ago to placate the protests over the miniscule pension increases (‘granted’ by Labour as I recall)…It therefore is an integral part of the pension and not some kind of temperature controlled means test.

  29. @ Stuart. Someone on basic pension in the UK gets A top up to around £140+ and pay no rent and very little council tax. Check it out. Free dental treatment is exactly that if on basic pension…cost of a crown…nada.

  30. Can someone explain why no one seems to properly want to integrate with the Spanish people and culture. Is it a British trait that we do not want to commit to anything fully. The UK has never fully been in Europe, the government prefer to do a portion with Europe, a portion with the USA. When you come to live in Spain full time I think you should be willing to go the whole hog, not try and change things so it is like the UK, you might as well stay there if that is your attitude. All I have heard off people on here is that the Spanish are all corrupt, non of them know what they are doing and the place is getting worse. The choice is yours, go home to the UK or integrate with the Spanish and try and improve things. Even after what you all have said I still intend to live in Spain, I will not miss Eastenders, baked beans or worry about a heating allowance. I will be coming for other reasons than those.

  31. Not sure whether you applaud or begrudge the pensioner situation in the U.K. Bryan? It’s still breadline on the basic, without family support or savings.

  32. Bryan – free crowns, in theory yes in reaality please supply the name and address of just one dentist who will supply this free service and is competent to do the job properly. A very old friend of mine has a wife who is a dental nurse she could not believe the quality of the dental work I had done in Guadix or the price charged.

    Top-ups to the basic pension – thanks for confirming what I said – lots of work for non-productive civil servants.

    The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) is over seen by 80 yes 80 civil servants in their Ministry of Defence. The UK employs 80,000 yes this is not a typo. When the public school generals and admirals (the UK has more admirals than ships!) retire on their 100% index linked pensions they get shooed in (the old school boy network) to incredibly well paid jobs with excellent pensions in the MOD, where they approve contracts that charge £45 + for a slot head screw – heard about the aircraft carriers that cvost billions and are not fit for purpose.

    Cut out this rot and corruption (you may have to get yoour hands a little bloody) and there will be plenty of money to treat pensioners/school children with respect and the future they deserve.

    John Lightfoot – there are so many on this forum laughing at you. Do you not see how pompous you are talking from theory when we are talking from experience?

  33. john l – some of us agree with your comments, too many daily mail types I suggest who want a little england here in spain and think spaniards get in the way

  34. It has everything to do with it. There is no reason that Expats should receive any other benefits apart from there pensions. A heating allowance in Spain, you have got to be joking.

  35. @ John Lightfoot
    I cordially invite you to spend a week in my house in the mountains of the Granada Province during winter, the proper winter that is not Ian Duncan mith’s bent idea of winter. You can travel light I will happily provide you with quilts and blankets and extra ones for when you are in bed. I do suggest however that you pack thermal socks. vests, long Johns, a nice thick woolen cardigan or jumper whatever is your preference and a body warmer. You will not require a swimsuit or sun screen as it is a two hour drive to the the beach. Take a look at the map you will find Spain is a very large country that is not made up exclsively of Mediterranean beaches.

  36. I’m a British expat OAP,
    My homeland doesn’t care about me,
    That I’ve worked and paid into the pot
    Whilst many in Britain have not!

    I’ve now been condemned to the cold
    Despite being infirm and old,
    And what is my cardinal sin?
    Pure and simple, the country I’m in!

    There are handouts to all and sundry,
    But not if you’re expat like me,
    So I’ll sum up the WF termination
    In one word – DISCRIMINATION!!!

  37. I have to agree with Stuart, NHS dentists don’t want to do anything difficult. My Wife goes to S America for her dentist, she is going again this year as she thinks the dentist in the UK are rubbish, I must agree. As an example, you have your teeth cleaned in the dentist in the UK, they take 3 or 4 minutes. In S America they use many different products and take 30 minutes and the teeth come out shining. I think she went a bit far having her fillings changed to white as they are not as strong… In one of my places in Spain the temperature goes down to -10c. I have central heating there and would think about getting a pellet burner in and see if I can connect the radiators to that rather than the open fire as they are at the moment but I don’t go there much in the Winter. I agree with Mike, I have not much TV at this Countryside place and no internet other than my O2, £2 a day effort when I am there. I only stay there for 3 weeks a year now so I don’t feel the urge to sort the TV out, I have sky news and a few others. I have to say though, the views from my place are fantastic, I have under 2 acres of land, so much storage space, large bedrooms, totally refurbished place, brand new everything, electronic gates, electronic garage door, so peaceful and quiet, fantastic swimming pools, trees watered by free irrigation system, completely fenced in, I sometimes stand there and feel like I have won the lottery, but my Wife feels like it is being in the back and beyond! I was looking forward to being semi self sufficient, keeping chickens but I may have to do that alone if I am going there! It is a waste of money though using a place for three weeks a year and no rentals.

  38. I’m sitting here on the Coast ( Costa Blanca. ) I have the central heating and an electric radiator on and I still have a cold nose. So I’m going to bed and then I can turn the expensive gas ( bottles ) off. It was 3 degrees and snowing today. Spanish houses are built to keep the oppressive summer heat out. When we went to stay with family in Cadiz one summer I asked my husband why he was packing a little fan heater and he said Cadiz is where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean sea meet and he had spent some of the coldest times of his life there. I’ve felt how hot Seville gets in the summer but it must be cold in the winter. Malaga too. Living on the coast is no guarantee against the cold. Luke’s comment was spot on. I remember seeing a conservative government member being asked about the low state pension and he said that we shouldn’t forget the Winter Fuel Allowance which helps towards it.
    There are an awful lot of Daily Mails sold in Spain.
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/73368 The lady that raised this petition made a good point.
    Buenos noches todos.

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