Help Expats to keep the Winter Fuel Payments - THIS IS URGENT!

On December 15th the DWP slipped in a Statutory Instrument to axe Winter Fuel Payments for British Expat Pensioners living in France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Greece and Malta. They laid it before Parliament for consideration.

MP Sir Roger Gale has today tabled a motion in the House of Commons asking for the ‘statutory instrument’ (SI) axing the payments to be annulled. It is now vital this obtains support from other MPs. - See more at:

Sir Roger said: “People must now contact their own MPs [in the case of expats, MPs for the last UK constituency where you were registered to vote] – not me - explaining why they have an interest. Tell them: ‘I am going to lose my WFP, which matters to me; this is unfair because...’ and please therefore will they sign EDM 695 which is a prayer against the statutory instrument.’ “Readers should also ask their MP to be kind enough to confirm that they have done this.”

This is part of the ongoing battle with the DWP, and is their way of using the ‘temperature test’ to create a category of ‘hot’ countries which are proscribed from a list of countries where claimants will still be paid the Winter Fuel Payment.

In October 2014 the Government published two booklets which provided a great deal of advice concerning the care of the elderly at times of cold winter temperatures. There is much evidence in these publications which shows there is an ‘increased risk of death’ whenever average winter temperatures fall below 8°C.

Three of the countries in the DWP’s list of proscribed countries where the WFP is to be stopped from 2015/2016, France, Greece and Spain, have average winter temperatures of 7.0°C, 7.1°C and 7.3°C respectively - all below the 8°C threshold - these three temperatures are those used by the DWP, and two of them are ‘false’.

So get onto your MP now and urge him/her to sign Roger Gale’s EDM.

This MSP has an interesting background and although not Tory has close family links - and clout. I'm sure he'll see her letter - or if not she'll raise it with him when they meet. And being a French property owner herself she's got as better idea than others !!

Wait for the standard letter from a minor civil servant to arrive, that will be it.
IDS will not see your letter.

For what it is worth a copy of my MSP's letter to IDS - which has also gone to Rachel Reeves the Shadow Secretary for State for W & P.

Dear Mr Duncan Smith

Winter Fuel Payment

I am aware that the Government intends to bring in changes to the Winter Fuel Payment which will limit payments to UK citizens living abroad.

While I understand the premise that the payment should be temperature linked, when I consider the territories you intend to exclude, I would question how fair it is to take an average across these countries especially when the climate can vary so dramatically from region to region.

Those who have contributed to UK taxes and consider the Winter Fuel Payment as part of their pension will be disadvantaged by this change in legislation. It seems unfair that they will loose out if they have chosen to live in a country where the average temperature is higher than the warmest part of the UK, despite the fact that the specific area they have moved to does not meet the average temperature.

I would be interested to hear your views on the generalisation this policy intends to make.

Yours sincerely

First, some interesting quotes:

“So from the autumn of 2015, we will link the Winter Fuel Payment to a temperature test. People in hot countries will no longer get it. It is, after all, a payment for winter fuel.”

{George Osborne in statement dated 26/06/2013}

“Therefore, in the first year of implementation there will be an estimated 132,000 people in the EEA who will no longer be entitled to WFP. By not paying WFP to these people, the reduction in WFP expenditure resulting from the WFP-TL proposal is estimated at £30m a year from 2015/16 onwards.”

{DWP Document dated 19/07/2013}

‘The European Court of Justice ruling means the Government must pay the annual hand-out worth as much as £300 to up to 444,000 British pensioners living abroad. Mr Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail: “We will fight these ridiculous rules. The winter fuel payment is about helping British pensioners with heating costs and it is ludicrous we could have to pay more pensioners living in hot countries.” It is estimated that the European judges’ ruling allowed up to 440,000 expats to claim the payment.’

{Daily Mail Online 22/08/2013}

“The quoted saving of £30 million by introducing changes to Winter Fuel Payments in certain overseas countries is a misunderstanding of the costs resulting from the Stewart judgment. The estimated saving brought about by these changes would be about £17 million”

{Steve Webb in letter dated 03/12/2014}

“From winter 2O15/16, Winter Fuel Payments will no longer be payable to individuals in countries where the average winter temperature is warmer than the warmest region of the UK (South West England)”

{Iain Duncan Smith in letter dated 05/03/2015}

Second, some interesting FACTS:

The words ‘must pay the annual hand-out worth as much as £300 to up to 444,000 British Pensioners living abroad’ is deliberately misleading, because it is simply not true!

The average payment of the WFP to each claimant in the last three years on record (taken from DWP published statistics) has been £170.85, £179.05, and £175.28 respectively.

Nothing like the £300 quoted, proving this figure was used by the DWP to stimulate support for the policy. Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP would have known these figures from their internal audit trails so why did they deliberately and knowingly allow false representation to be published? Did they not have a public duty to ensure the correct figures appeared?

In the Briefing Note published by the DWP on 19th July 2013, the DWP estimated there could be as many as 471,000 UK Citizens throughout the EEA, who, by age qualifications, could claim the WFP.

However, since the WFP is a household benefit, the true figure for claimants in the EEA can never be more than half that number at 235,000, whereas in fact the total number of claimants to date, is only 135,285 (as published in the 13/14 statistics from the DWP), even after the expected jump in numbers in the previous year, which followed the implementation of the Regulations by the Government as a result of the Stewart Judgment. And, IN FACT 93,000 individual claimants have had their WFP withdrawn, which as most are from households, it almost certainly means that 180,000 British Pensioners have been penalised!

That is a stark illustration of the degree to which figures have been distorted and manipulated by Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP!

George, Have only just seen this - it sounds like a lump of DWP propaganda added to some more interesting bits. The figures quoted are gross over-estimates by the DWP and have now been refuted, but the damage has been done. I will send some more material tomorrow.

My MSP in Scotland - who is also a French home owner, in one of the colder regions in winter - has just sent me this (most of which will be familiar but there are some interesting points about the law).

<< Following your e-mail to X about the Winter Payment Allowance she asked me to look into the detail of this and I wanted to update you on the information the Scottish Parliament’s research team has provided. Some of this I am sure you already know.

A European Court judgement means that more people living in Europe can now claim a Winter Fuel Payment. This has increased the cost of paying Winter Fuel Payments outside of the UK by around £30 million a year.

The proposed “temperature link” would affect people in seven territories: Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain. The DWP analysis estimated that the temperature rule could result in around 132,000 people no longer being entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment in the first year of implementation (2015-16). This would result in savings of around £30 million a year from 2015-16 onwards. This change is expected broadly to offset the cost of the European Court judgement.

The DWP analysis did not however explain how the list of territories was arrived at, nor has there been any official statement on the methodology chosen and the data used. However, according to a BBC report shortly after the Spending Round announcement:

The list was compiled by the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which analysed which countries were warmer on average between November and March than the South West of England - the warmest part of the UK. It used a data set from the last 29 years.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was asked during a Parliamentary question which French tropical overseas territories were included in his Department's average temperature calculations in respect of winter fuel payments to expatriate UK citizens living in the EU member states. [167864]

The response was that from 2015-16 winter fuel payments will no longer be payable to individuals in countries where the average winter temperature is warmer than the warmest region of the UK (South-West England). The Government has worked with the Met Office to analyse comparable winter temperature data across all EEA countries. The Met Office used recognised administrative regions for each country. For France this was the 27 regions, including French Guyana, Guadeloupe, La Reunion, Martinique and Mayotte. It does not include the French overseas territories, which are not part of the EEA.

I spoke with our MEP and in turn her office contacted the European Court to ask about the potential impact of the current government making this change. The only guidance they could give was that a test case would have to be brought once the legislation had been changed before a ruling could be made.

The researches were also able to confirm that there is the intention for Winter Fuel Allowance to be included in the Scotland Bill but the timescales for the transfer have not been agreed yet therefore it still sits within the remit of the UK Government.

X does intend to write to the Department of Work and Pensions about the temperature analysis and I will send you a copy. Please let me know what your postal address is and I’ll send it on. X will then be in touch with you as soon as she has had a response. >>

Just goes to show how devious the bunch of elitist clowns in Parliament and more importantly the high ups in the uncivil service are prepared to go to screw pensioners to give money away in 'aid' to make them look good. What they always forget is that it is the TAXPAYERS money they are playing with.

As has been pointed out on here it is not the weather in Bordeaux that counts it is how warm it is in places like Guadeloupe and Martinique for example.

As Doreen says we now all have them, as do the Germans and the Swiss. Our Mayor even in our commune of less than 300 people is used to signing these on a regular basis.

My MP has now signed the Early Day Motion put down by Sir Roger Gale, but we now find that the Government has no time to debate the 15 year limit for ex pat voting, and yet they want our votes.

They talk about joined up government and yet they have 't got the first idea.

Good afternoon Jane,

Only just picked up on this one. 'the thinking going on in the DWP' surely that is pure out and out wishfool (not a typo) hoping on your part?

A short time ago I received a form from said DWP to prove that I am alive and kicking (I know who I would like to kick with the initials IDS) and having filled it in then going to the Marie to have the Mayor sign it to say I am who I say I am and that I was alive and this has duly been returned to the DWP.

Who else has had one of these works of bureaucratic works of art?

As a sideline to this a friend who used to live in France until 18 months ago before returning to the UK went to South Africa for 6 weeks to stay with his brother and on returning to the UK last month found himself to be declared dead. It has taken him over two weeks to be officially resurrected. What is going on in the UK? There is no doubt in my mind that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

We have contacted our MP in Dorset where we used to live, and have suggested to him that he should point out to the house that Euronews on the hour give the weather forecast for Europe, and today for example, the forecast for Bordeaux is the same as Southampton!.Somebody is trying to con us.

I wrote to Sir George Young (Con MP NW Hampshire) and received a very similar negative reply - probably a standard response which all the Con MPs have been given so that they can follow the party line. Depressing...

Hi Brian,

You are quite right Julie Girling should be ashamed of herself, as should all MP's who are not signing the EDM put forward by Sir Roger Gale. I cannot imagine Sir Graham Watson behaving like that!!

I have just seen on the news British tourists stranded by snow in the North and middle of Spain, which, of course, is a warm country!!

I am getting nowhere with both my MP and MEP, perhaps I too should start again here in France.

I can just imagine the thinking going on in the DWP to the effect that the exchange rate for all of us getting our pensions from UK is now in our favour, so that is yet another reason that they can cut WFP.

My MP, Mark Lazarowicz - Edinburgh North and Leith is also one of the 3 to have added their signatures to the motion ( ).

However ..... If the UK government elected this May keeps to 'The Vow' made to the People of Scotland ( and confirmed in recent white paper ( ) then Winter Fuel Payments will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Anyone registered in Scotland will then need to lobby their MSP to retain a WFP for French residents.

I had excatly the same reply from Julie Girling - and I also sent her a sharp reply,

She should be absolutely ashamed of herself.

FROM a French MEP I received this today - Note the salutations républicaines -

Marchons les citoyens! We might get more support from those amongst whom we live.

Monsieur Cave,

J'avais en effet noté la question de mon collègue Franck Proust à ce sujet.

La Commission n'a pour l'instant pas répondu. Elle a six semaines pour le faire à partir du 14 janvier, date à laquelle M Proust a posé sa question.

J'attends comme vous la réponse, et serai attentive à l'évolution de ce problème qui touche nombre de vos concitoyens.

Veuillez agréer, monsieur Cave, mes salutations républicaines.

Virginie ROZIÈRE

Députée européenne

Parti Radical de gauche

Groupe de l'Alliance Progressiste des

Socialistes et Démocrates au Parlement européen

Bruxelles - ASP 14G165 | 0032 2 28 45408

Strasbourg - LOW T08.008 | 0033 3 88 1 75408

Roger, the following is a copy of an e-mail from Julie Girling MEP and my rather shirty reply.

It appears that the quaint idea of becoming an MP or MEP to represent your constituents has totally gone to the wall and the only way to deal with these people is to see them in court!

Dear Ms Williamson,

Thank you for contacting me about Winter Fuel Payments.

As you are aware, Ministers announced in 2014 that from winter 2015/16 Winter Fuel Payments would no longer be payable to individuals in EEA countries which have an average winter temperature higher than the UK.

This change will mean Winter Fuel Payments will no longer be payable in Portugal, Spain, Greece, France, Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus. I can pass on that the Government has worked with the Met Office to develop as robust a methodology as possible, and to analyse comparable winter temperature data across all EEA countries.

I appreciate you have concerns over the treatment of France in these calculations. I can pass on that, as Overseas Departments of France, certain territories are treated in the same way as mainland France, and Winter Fuel Payments are currently made to those entitled who live there. Therefore, the hotter French Overseas Departments have been included in the calculation of the average winter temperature of France.

This change will save around £30 million a year, broadly offsetting the cost of a recent European court judgment which stated that the Government must pay Winter Fuel Payment to EEA citizens who have a "genuine and sufficient link" with the UK.

I do believe that this is an important change, which will re-focus the benefit on its original purpose and avoid a situation where the Government will be paying 115,000 people in warmer countries a Winter Fuel Payment by 2015.

I hope this is information provides some reassurance. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Julie Girling MEP

Dear Ms Girling,

I appreciate that you are following the party line, but it is illegal under European Regulations to treat one section of citizens differently from others in the application of benefits. This works against the freedom of movement inherent in the Community itself.

As an MEP, though a new one, I would have thought that you would understand this.

Apart from the few MP's who have added their names to the Early Day Motion put down by Sir Roger Gale, it appears there is very little integrity amongst Tory MP's at the moment and they are being persuaded to take an illegal path rather than stand up for the valid concerns of their constituents.

The DWP is following a totally different set of figures than those which are generally accepted and whilst you may call them a robust methodology, others look upon them as perpetrating a fraud upon people who deserve better. The original data was supplied by the University of East Anglia, which does not include overseas territories in its figures. These areas which may be politically part of other countries are, literally, a world away from mainland France and, as such totally irrelevant from a meteorological point of view. Please question the robustness of this model?

This is not a matter of saving money it is what is legal under European Regulations. How much will it cost the UK Government to contest the actions which will certainly be brought against them in what they say is a policy to save money.

What would save money and be legal is to make this benefit means-tested, to which we have no opposition.

Please think again regarding your attitude to this problem.

We find it totally contradictory that the UK government is running a campaign to improve the registration of ex-pat voters on the one hand and then treating them in an illegal way on the other.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Jane Williamson and Dr James Williamson

She will receive the standard reply from Steve Webb which will then be forwarded to you. A complete waste of time!

OK ......My MP, Mark Lazarowicz, has not yet signed it despite having written to me last week >>>

"I will look at this EDM and will probably sign it when I am back in London next week. "

I know he has been in the House of Commons this week - he voted on Trident renewal and has spoken on various matters. I will chase him again next week.

My mistake, sorry. She's the MP but is SNP. I used her email address at the House of Commons.