The Annual UK Winter Fuel Allowance for the Over-60s

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.

Tony, there was supposedly a major computer crash in Peterborough where they used to keep the records in those days. But my TOR claim was after that and there was no mention of it, so pretend all is fine. I cannot believe that what are relatively recent paper records backed up by large mainframes that still used large storage tapes then could entirely lose the lot anyway.

Our college account told some of us because he was doing private work on the side, legitimately really, for those of us who were also doing consultancy work as I was. My income from grants then was tax free, but my teaching income taxed at source and then there was the freelance. The tax people tried to lump the grants in as income although the donors (including other UK govt depts) did all the paperwork to show they were revenue exempted. So I needed an accountant, however he was a real enemy of the state in his work because being amongst academics he had advised economists writing articles on the perversities of the tax system in the UK. So, he was interested in getting them as often as he could. My fortune. My repayment was over 12K and that allowed for what I theoretically owed that year which was a few bob too.

I read somewhere that the Inland Revenue may have destroyed all their records for 1996/97, so how they check for T.O.R. today I don't know but, more to the point, they are supposed to take it into account when you cease trading. But, how many tax people at the Inland Revenue still know about it? If you were self-employed in 1996/97 and are entitled to T.O.R. and are still working self-employed today, then you really should make you sure you claim it, even if it means going up to the attic in search of your records. Like you, Jane, it was worth a lot of money to me! 1996/97 just so happened to be a great year for me!

However, better still if you are entitled to T.O.R. and are still working, don't wait until you retire, you will lose out, apart from inflation eroding the value of this allowance, I believe they deduct your final personal tax allowance for the last year from it i.e. you can't have both. All you have to do to trigger your claim for T.O.R. is change your tax year to April 5th, then the Inland Revenue have to settle up with you including your T.O.R. at that point and, like I say, I believe you can carry T.O.R. back to previous year's profits to use it up if your current year's profits don't.

I should add here I am not an accountant and I am just posting this from memory of my personal experience. I tried to get all my friends who were entitled to T.O.R. to apply for it, (none of their accountants had mentioned it to them) but I couldn't get anyone interested, which I could never understand. It is a perfectly legitimate entitlement. I also tried to get the Daily Mail and Radio 4's MoneyBox Live interested, but as far as I know, they weren't interested either. I actually found out about T.O.R. from a long telephone conversation I had with this wonderful lady at the Inland Revenue who was answering a completely different question and our conversation got completely sidetracked and then, out of the blue, she asked me if I had ever heard of T.O.R. and then spent the next half hour trying to explain to me how it came about and even sent me a three page letter on it. However, like I say, you don't need to know the theory, just whether you are entitled to it to claim T.O.R. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't members of SFN who are entitled to it, but know nothing about it!

Yes Tony, they said nothing about it at all. I got my overpaid dosh back by making an enquiry about exactly how much I owed without declaring anything. I was told to do that by our college accountant who said it was a good way of finding out if you had overpaid without declaring. The trick was, when they responded saying you had not made a declaration you argued back that you did and demanded they search their system for the lost declaration and then you would pay what you owe them. That way you always stayed on the side of legal, they knew that is what you were doing but proving it was another matter. So imagine my face when I found that when they asked me to send in my declaration, in the same letter I was informed about TOR and how there appeared to be money owing to me. They did all the calculations, I got a nice rebate without paying anything and my declarations/tax demands were adjusted accordingly.

I told other people working freelance like me and it took them all kinds of efffort to actually get straightforward information and instruction, so I am not surprised it is still difficult to get info on overlap relief transitional arrangements from the IR. Go for it David. I do not get Child Benefit because the tax I theoretically pay is only on Child Trust Funds for my children, but since they are tax exempt...

Our accountant actually applied for TFO and we received about 10k!!

Very kind of you Tony! However I'm pretty certain we made a LOSS that year. Thankfully I no longer run a business as an architect in private practice. Memory serves that there were recessions in the building industry in 1975, 1991, and of course 2008 (by when I was out of running a business) let alone several dips in between. In the admittedly very good days of the 80s I put some money aside (on the recommendation of my accountant) into a gem of an organisation called Equitable Life! You know the history. In '97 I had to sell my house to appease the bank and finance my ex wife! When I have little (very little) victories like WFP I feel I have a just cause for celebration. I managed at the age of 64 to have another baby and as I still pay UK tax I eventually found out I could still get Child Benefit too. It all helps!

Ah! Talking of unpublicised UK government policies, I bet you guys have never heard of Transitional Overlap Relief, one of the UK government's best kept secrets for getting money back! If you were self-employed in the UK in 1996/97 and your tax year differed from the Inland Revenue's start date for its tax year i.e. April 5th, then if you made a profit for that year, you were due Transitional Overlap Relief! (That's if you knew about it!). And, in theory, YOU CAN STILL GET IT even after all this time! I didn't find out about it until 2005 and got it. Let me give you an example. Suppose your tax year started October 1st. That is 6 months approximately to April 5th, the Inland Revenue's start date for the tax year. (The Inland Revenue actually calculate T.O.R. on a number of days basis). Suppose you made £20,000 profit that year. Then your T.O.R. would be £10,000 (6 months worth of profit), which you can claim against profits, i.e. use T.O.R. to reduce your CURRENT profits for tax purposes by £10,000 and, if I remember correctly, if you still have any T.O.R. over i.e. you earnt less than £10,000 that year, you can carry your T.O.R. back up to 6 years, (I'd need to refresh my memory on this, as it is so long ago). Believe me, though, it's true, I still have letters from the Inland Revenue about it!

It all comes about because in 1996/97, the Inland Revenue changed the basis of charging tax on self-employed people from a previous year basis to a current year basis. It is mind-numbingly difficult to get your head around the concept involved, but, fortunately, you don't need to. All you need to know is whether you qualify for it by the start date of your personal tax year back then, (lots of people's personal tax year start on 1st January, unlike April 5th). The Inland Revenue will then do the calculation for you. And, even if you have ceased trading, you should check whether the Inland Revenue included T.O.R. in your final settlement, if you were entitled to it.

If this T.O.R. situation applies to anyone, as I say, even after all this time, then let me know and I will take a deep breathe and do a post on SFN explaining how you can trigger the process to claim T.O.R. etc. I don't won't to bore everyone unnecessarily, but it's really is worth it, if you are entitled to it!

The less they say, the more they deprive. We used to decribe them the same way as illegitimate children, holds good by me still.

I agree that it seems very unlikely at present to be thinking in terms of backpayments even if the court may have considered that it would be fair to pay those. I have heard that the government is saying no to backpayments but does anybody have any precise information contra? Only at lunch today I discovered that there are still many expats who know nothing about all this and despite the fact that they are eligible have received no notification of entitlement. Surely government is meant to be transparent and open not apparently to be obscure and confusing.

I believe mine is due in about now according to the letter, so take it as this year's payment.

Amazing news- I received 249 euros into my bank account for WFP this week. I sent a form off about two or so weeks ago but a letter before. I have received no letter or other notification from the UK government so don't know if it's a back payment or this year's. Anyway welcome news!

Jane, it is £200 pounds for the first person (unless over 80 in which case £300) then £100 for the second (or again £150 if 80+). Then all the business about before 1951 etc comes into play. However, there seems to be no formular by which there or here £400 could be prised out of them despite what they say and it always seems to work out at £300 a household. I have just re-applied and got everything back in 10 days including the incomprehensible blurb I am attempting to quote from.

Cany anyone tell me if this applies to each person over 60 in a household, or if this is an allowance per household please?

Also Brian Cave on his Pensioners Debut blog says that it applies to British pensioners and doesn't mention the age of 60.

Clarification please.

200 pounds what is 2OO pounds when we paid in thousands of pounds every year.

Corperation tax, capitol gains tax NHI for our staff, council tax, buisness tax.

What on earth is 200 pounds???

Richard you clearly have your own agenda. Interesting that everytime we have had someone with a very individual view...(no harm in that) they dont wish to be identified by a photo...and usually end up insulting everyone. You are absolutely entitled to your I am mine. I still have an apartment in the UK so am still paying all the usual household taxes there and contributing to the economy...despite a main residence in France so I assume you will allow me to take my WFA...especially as I still work in the UK sporadically? There is a requirement on SFN for a photo...though I notice you are not so keen on pics...your facebook page doesnt have one there is a reason?

Your point of view Richard is a point of view which is in a minority. If the legislation had been drafted to say what the government really meant to say i.e. that ex pats should not receive the WFA which is logical as us British go and settle all over the world and it would be stupid to receive it if you decide to live in a tent in the Gobi desert (though I understand the nights get a bit parky) then they should have checked the legislation and got their highly paid legal staff to put it in and not try to wriggle out of the obligations once the legislation was passed. Plus there must have been large amounts of public money paid to other legal staff by going backwards and forwards to the European Commission trying to get out of their responsibilities. As it happens, your view is null and void as the UK Government has been told to pay the WFA to us. Hooray!

Nah nah na nah!

Barabara and Brian well said but I have a sneaking feeling that Mr Myszka was not joking. He's probably been cosying up to ID-S so the latter can claim that many ex-pats agree with his wishes. In view of lack of pic maybe he IS ID-S! I think we should be told! He doesn't seem to get it that the Court said that WFP should not be treated as an "extra". Meanwhile I think we all reluctantly agree that we are unlikely to get free bus passes when visiting the UK! It's probably true that we can't make many visits though, owing to the cost!

By the way ...It was a joke was it not.

Richard not sure if you understand why people are getting a winter fuel allowance....

Do you.

Shall I tell you.

Going to...It is because they have paid the taxes required from them through their

working life and the 200 pounds can be spent on keeping warm for a week or 2 WHEREVER

you have decided to go to for a change of life/retirement.

I do not think that there can be any arguement about that except that back payments should

be made to those who have had this payement offered at such a late date.

Oh well, your loss if you are entitled.

You may notice the black square says 'new member' which you are not. The vast majority of members have no objection to putting up a pic. Clearly you do. People try to identify as a kind of community and by putting a face to ourselves, or more or less doing so, thus removing black square we also have a face. If you have good reason for being different to others, please divulge us of that information and let the several thousand of us with pictures dwell on that reason.