Forgive me if someone has already raised this subject before, but the rules governing the Winter Fuel Allowance made to UK Nationals over the age of 60 has changed. The WFA is currently £200 a year for people over 60 and rises to £300 a year for people over 80 (I believe it is 80, but I stand to be corrected on this.)
Up to now, if you left the UK permanently before the age of 60 and had not already received the annual Winter Fuel Allowance while in the UK, you were not eligible to receive it. If you had received the WFA before leaving the UK, you continue to receive it. However, the EU has just ruled that this is an unlawful discrimination against ex-Pats living abroad. From now on, ex-Pats over 60 who left the UK before the age of 60 and had previously not received the WFA are now entitled to claim it. There is a form on the government website. The address is:
The UK Government has blustered a bit over this EU ruling by saying that they would be looking into restricting the WFA to only those who have a definite link with the UK and that they are going to restrict it to exclude 'hot' Winter countries. However, the form gives no indication of this, in as much as it advises ex-Pats in Gibraltar that they are treated as EU citizens (let's face it, Gibraltar must be a 'hot' Winter country). As far as the definition of a link to the UK, I would imagine if you have a record of residence and work in the UK and are receiving a UK government pension, you must qualify, but, at the moment, no one seems to know. I do know that due to the anticipated volume of claims, you probably will not receive the WFA at the normal time of November, more likely by April 2013!
I have always thought this discrimination wrong. I left the UK before I was 60 and have paid a lifetime of tax and National Insurance Contributions to the UK Treasury and yet would not be entitled to the WFA under the previous rules. However, I know of a couple of people who have lived off the UK state virtually all their working lives and have not paid a fraction of tax etc which I have paid and yet will receive the WFA as well as Pension Credits simply because they are still resident in the UK. It's not so much the money as the principle. Often, I get the feeling that the UK government regards ex-Pats with disdain and would like to wash its hands of them, despite often a lifetime of paying into the UK tax system. (Grumble over for today!)
I hope this post is useful.