Thousands of elderly expats face having their winter fuel payments scrapped by a ruling of the new UK Coalition Government as they aim to cut down public spending.
A huge amount of expat retirees move to countries with much warmer weather, places such as Greece and Spain, yet they still receive the winter fuel payments, which are in place to help OAP’s with their energy bills. However retirees who live in Europe face the prospect of living without these payments in a move that could save the government millions of pounds per year.
The payments have attracted controversy in the past as many believe it is unfair for people to receive the payments as they may not have any need for them in their new, much warmer homes. Back in 2008 the now Deputy Prime Minister voiced his disapproval of the scheme: "People will be shocked that while thousands of pensioners are struggling to pay their fuel bills this winter, millions of pounds are being deposited into the accounts of people living in sunny Spain."
He added: “That millions of pounds meant to help pensioners heat their homes is being sent abroad will undermine people's faith in the benefits system. Clearly, there is a need to look at the rules governing how the winter fuel payment is distributed”.
Every winter just under 65,000 elderly Brit expats receive the payment of up to £400. The scheme was launched by Labour in 1997 and it is thought that this years costs could be as high as £2.7billion.
Attempts to bring an end to these payments may still fall afoul as they must first pass strict EU discrimination laws, which have hindered attempts to change the scheme in the past.