Next round of the benefits/pensions saving by the DWP

Not only are we seeing the looming loss of winter fuel payments but also a pension freeze and certain other restrictions on child benefits, disability allowances and probably far more that we have yet to hear about.

The DWP has now started its campaign against European migrants. Income related benefits such as housing benefit, income support and council tax benefit are to be harder for all EU migrants to obtain as of next Friday. They will have to complete a questionnaire of around 100 questions that includes reasons they were unable to find work in their home country. They will also be asked about their ability to speak English. Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "It is vitally important that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of our benefits system. The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country, and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system."

The problem now is that whilst this may all be against EU rules and there could eventually be a court decision, IDS has put this in place at short notice which is really going to ruffle feathers. Shall we getting the upshot of this? If they start sending French migrants home because they do not speak English then how will France take it and will we be seeing retaliatory measures?

My immediate reaction may be completely wrong of course. However, the present government has been making a dog's dinner of benefits and pensions and my gut feeling is that this is part of the overall attempt to end welfare policies that will be punitive to UK citizens as well. Now we all need to keep watching very closely.

Many thanks Brian!

I prefer OSIE because it is part of a global programme.

I know the Votes for Expats people and have supported for a while. My MP (Jane Ellison) told me she's more interested in young local voters than retired expats. However most of the research shows that the young don't vote much and the grey vote is really much more active. Personally I think that UK politicians are missing out by largely distancing themselves from expats. Back home the Home Counties Tory vote has been decimated by UKIP but if the gay and flooding brigade continue they may lose some of their support. I do like the idea of active independents.

David - not this but somewhere in this thread yesterday you asked about initiatives for votes in countries of residence:

Open Society Initiative for Europe

and votes for expat brits

The latter should be all expats, not just 'brits' but we can't pick and choose too much.

First one who tried a hand up my back...

Mind you, the commune's secretary...

Best some of us keep out of it all.

My thoughts exactly. I'm not glove puppet material, hence our reply. Just can't see me sitting on a committee & saying nothing;-) Quite like the apprentice idea though. Get to hear all the dirt with no responsibility!

They would only need to read SFN to realise Brian!

They require useful, passive (glove) puppets in reality. If I said I would do it, it would be with an evil glint in my eye and a shock or twenty in store for them.

Interestingly, this morning we had a visit from our prospective mayor asking if we would consider being on his list for the forthcoming election. I thought we had kept ourselves well under the radar but apparently not as the inclusion of our names had also been suggested by others.

We had to tell him that as much as we would like to help the commune we knew very little about & had little interest in local politics & therefor would be of little use in what appeared to be still a political thing. I suggested an apprenticeship type of thing for people like us whereby we could sit in on various committees to find out how things worked. He seemed quite taken with the idea & didn't think it had been suggested before. Does anybody know if such a thing exists in other communes?

The mayors have less and less power anyway. They are waffling that they don't want me on the council (15 councillors from the usual local families and all the employees of the council and ADMR ditto) but to be co-opted onto a commission- sounds like the Salon des Refuses to me! Any idea that anybody comes up with here is squashed. When we suggested an annual vide grenier we were told it wouldn't work- in our sixth year now. So far we raised funds for a playground, local charities, Christmas hampers for the disadvantaged etc etc etc. I have a procession of people coming to my door asking for help- I do live right in the centre of the village! Interesting that the village doctor just retired and the only willing candidate was Roumanian and he starts very soon. The village is equipping the former butcher's as his surgery (yes really) and helping him with a house rental. My aspirations (?) for the council are possibly not helped by the fact that 22 years ago I exposed the previous mayor and now late notaire for some illegal activities and extracted the then equivalent of about £6000 damages from the council! I was told it was the first time it had ever happened and unthinkable that it should have been a Brit! I was obliged to use surreptitiously a lawyer from Paris!

The ex-mayor who did not like me because I am foreign (and he son of Italian immigrants!) BUT a couple of neighbouring communes have at least one. It's nothing like your percentage bar one settlement just too big to be a hamlet and too small for a village in the commune as far as can be from our side. There it is about 50%. However, none of them would ever stand. He heard from one of the other councillors that I had done it in England and even chaired, so invited me to stand. I shrugged shoulders Gallic style and said 'No'. I know what a pain in the rear it was with a halfway democratic council in England but here as a rubber stamp councillor when the maire basically decides everything and gets his council to nod his every word would be pains in rear, neck and more.

There's a Lib Dem on some sort of accusation today as well.

Funnily enough I have to decide very soon indeed should I or should I not stand in the Municipales. I did last time and got a surprising number of votes and quite a few more are asking me to stand. There are however a hard core of locals who don't want a "British" candidate- but I would be an independent candidate not a British candidate. At the mo we have one of the very few remaining "communist" mayors. It'a ll very sensitive round here especially with regard to the last war. For details Google "History of Scriganc". NOBODY locally will talk about the war. However I am feeling rather old at 69 this year and whilst expats own 24% of houses there are very few obvious candidates amongst them. Lack of adequate French is a problem for most.

What a ridiculous and disgusting response!

I agree with you re votes in country of residence - "no taxation without representation"? Is there an actual campaign or do you just keep on at people, if so who?

Still, better than the one we got when Ian Gibson was Norwich North MP - nothing! Then he turned up to "support" the campaign to save Norwich Puppet Theatre (not even IN Norwich North) but didn't come on the march. Then of course he was found fiddling - except initially he seemed to see nothing wrong in letting his daughter have the flat taxpayers had been paying for at a knockdown price...

London connections! My wife worked with a fellow whose mum lived next door to the Krays' mum. Mind you she worked with a lot of people who had Kray connections, albeit loose, because they were East Enders.

I should add that wife's previous meetings with CP were nothing to do with "business" but because she was heavily involved in an anti-motorway (the M23 coming straight thru' Streatham) campaign which CP supported. It was CP who told her to say "sex" when you're having your photo taken as it produces a much better smile than "cheese".

A lot of people say that voting for independents is pointless because they won't get in - but if enough people DID vote for them - they would.

Poor fellow your MP friend - possibly too much integrity?

Because we moved here from Swansea after five years there and I had a bit of a carp that Geraint Davies the local MP got I got really angry. He left it in the hands of one of his staff who did the 1. only temporarily in Wales, 2. not Welsh, 3. living abroad, and 4. probably not a Labour supporter number on me. I have made sure I am de-registered from any UK elections because of that. I am one of the people actively campaigning for votes in country of residence after period X (i.e. 5 years, but would prefer less).

In SW19 and later in East Cambridgeshire we had loads of 'personalities' but none up to Cynthia's standard and the MPs were a vague greyness we didn't know or care much about. Even as a council chair, when we had an all county meeting with all of our MPs I had no idea which one was which, their parties, policies or anything else. I also noticed how all of them, especially the Cambridge and Peterborough blokes, outdid everybody else at getting to and consuming the booze. I can justify being of little faith on the back of what I've seen, it is just that it appears to be getting worse.

Ah yes I know exactly where CP lived and she was just round the corner from the Bishop of Southwark! That takes me back! I do have alibis of course! There are one or two very good independent candidates and even councillors and a few MPs too. Very often they do make better and more zealous representatives and are not merely interested in climbing up the greasy pole. Talking of CP i did meet Christine Keeler in the local pub a few times back in the 60s. A friend of mine got caught up with April Ashly too but that was a very different story! SF does trigger certain memories!! I had a friend who was an MP but he couldn't take the strain and ended up taking his own life- was a nice guy in fact. I should emphasise that I didn't know the Krays (but have a good story about an obscure connection between them and me) but I did use to have a fairly frequent pint with one of the Richardsons. Really rambling now!!!!

Find out who the local independent is and vote for them. My wife is v happy to share the fact that when she lived in Streatham she voted for Cynthia Payne, who stood as an independent, partly because she liked her (she had met and chatted with her a couple of times) but also because she agreed with everything CP was standing on - better animal rights, pornography controls, legalisation and control of prostitution and a couple of local issues.

Even in the UK many people don't know what is going on! However the further and longer you are away then the government and indeed many organisations will try to take advantage of you. I have just found the same with a firm of UK lawyers who would I ma sure react better if I was local; unfortunately I was obliged to use them for family reasons. When my last wife died (a retired British lady) although I registered her death with the British embassy at Paris I had no idea until later that UK death benefits were available. When I did apply I was told I would largely miss out as I was too late. My nominal UK MP has confirmed to me IN WRITING that she's more interested in her young constituents who "already think that retired expats are paid too much". You couldn't get closer to the two fingers if you tried. Her agent has just been found with his hand in the till BTW. I don't want to vote for her, or for UKIP, or for Lib Dems or for Labour- makes it quite difficult to actually vote!