Having gathered together all of our evidence, I have just gone live with a website designed to expose all the fiddles and fraud conducted by Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP to remove the Winter Fuel Payment from 93,000 British households in Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain, and Gibraltar. We think 180,000 British Pensioners are being deprived of this legal old-age benefit in what is perhaps the biggest confidence trick pulled off on the UK Parliament. So why not take a look, but do read beyond the first page!
Sorry Roger, why isn't all this on your website. Do you not think it relevant to tell everyone what you are doing and how that is progressing?
Raymond, bringing an action is easy - it's winning that's the hard part. And that's why it's such a good test of how committed you are to your interpretation of the evidence.
There's a world of difference between "I believe xxx to be a liar" and "I have proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that xxx is a liar".
Jane, thank you for your support!
In eighteen months’ time Iain Duncan Smith becomes eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment, and in four and a half years he will get it automatically. And, that’s what wrong about the WFP - the universality of it. IDS will never NEED it, but many will and do! In the UK 12.6 million people receive the WFP - all pensioners, plus a few who claim before they reach State Pension Age (SPA). In the EEA, only around 29% of all British Pensioners have claimed the WFP, which does rather suggest that those who don’t need it, don’t bother to claim, since those who have left the UK do not receive it automatically.
There needs to be a fundamental root and branch reassessment and reform of the Winter Fuel Payment. Everyone in the UK receives the WFP automatically when they reach 62 (at present), are on benefits and/or reach State Pension Age (SPA). In Ireland, for example the ‘Fuel Allowance’ is a great deal more generous, but is only available to those who are in receipt of benefits, and therefore on the lowest incomes.
That might explain why there has been exponential growth in the numbers of claims from the Irish Republic in the two years following the Stewart Judgment. There has been a 345% growth in claims, resulting in Ireland outstripping France for the numbers involved, and, when we get the 2014/2015 figures in September probably outstripping Spain as well.
It is the Irish growth which does rather bring what is wrong about the WFP into sharp focus. There are 136,000 British Pensioners in Ireland, and theoretically all of them could claim. We will never be able to get a breakdown of the details of Irish Claimants, but it seems likely that many Irish citizens who spent time working in the UK and thereby qualified for a partial UK pension, suddenly realised they could claim two hundred quid from the UK without any form of means test!
Labour’s income cap proposal of £42,000 for the WFP, still only scratches the surface. They estimate it will save £100 Million - better than IDS’s miserable £17 Million - but still only scratching the surface of the total bill of £2.2 Billion.
I believe the most sensible reform would be to apply the same rules to the WFP as already apply for the Cold Weather Payments - in other words, payments only to those who meet the tough eligibility rules for CWP. 3.8 Million were eligible for CWP for the 2014/2015 winter, with 55% of those in receipt of pension credit. Even if the payment went from the average of £175 to a more generous £350 per household, it could still shave up to £1 Billion off the WFP Budget.
But, with all Parties in this General Election Campaign committed to the ‘Triple Lock’ policy, I cannot see any change in the foreseeable future.
That being the case, I personally will continue to campaign for the restoration of WFP to those in Europe who have now lost it, simply because I do not want anyone to suffer as a consequence of the fiddling and manipulations carried out by Iain Duncan Smith!
Martin, for the record, I have a formal complaint under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. I have a formal complaint under investigation by the UK Statistics Authority. I have a formal complaint being examined by The EU Commission. I have a Petition before the Committee for Petitions of the European Parliament. The website I have compiled is but one element of a whole series of pieces of evidence compiled around the subject of the WFP. I may not succeed, but I won't give up!
And, on a much more lowly basis, I am helping a neighbour who spends 30% of his weekly State Pension income, his only income, on heating oil. The loss of the Winter Fuel Payment is but one element which is causing him considerable concern right now.
I take my hat off to you Roger and I have passed your web address onto the Expat campaigners. Well done for exposing this high level of corruption in our so call democracy.
Have you ever tried to sue a Government Minister? He has the taxpayer funded Civil Service to back him, you have only your own resources. It is very very difficult. There are various measures being taken to take this illegal action to the European Court, there could be a judgement in 5 years, so your point about direct action is well made as official action is miles away.
I met him once, in Westminster Hall, and he gave me the "creeps" - hands simultaneously too warm and too cold as I imagine a re-animated corpse would be.
Yes, I realise what a Universal Benefit is and the S.I says you're not entitled to it if you live in France so helping your neighbour directly is the most practical course of action to minimize the damage in the short-term, if there is any. Why would you take up cudgels on your neighbours behalf and then let them "starve" (unless you have some other agenda here)?
What I really don't see is how calling anyone a liar and a fraud directly helps you challenge the S.I.?
It's a simple enough question, if you have real evidence of fraud then sue him, take your evidence to be tested by people qualified to do so. Why not? It's not hard to do ;-)
What "unsupported accusations" ?
IDS is in charge of a team which massaged figures to reduce government expenditure, he should be held to account and the false figures revised.
Ah, so there IS another agenda here. No point in my debating WFA if all you guys want to do is throw around unsupported accusations.
If the government of the day is acting illegally, it should be brought to book, irrespective of the cost of administrating their policy.
Do you not realise that this is a universal benefit and what you are proposing is charity?
If we have a UK pension then we have the right to the WFP, you can argue and I would agree that those who have income over a certain amount should not receive it.
It appears to me that you do not care if the UK government behaves illegally and if they are not stopped on one point they are quite likely to take matters further. We need people like Roger and myself, who took the French authorities to the Commission, to stop the excesses of government and maladministration.
He is worse than useless, he is vindictive.
too right! IDS was useless as Conservative leader (the quiet man!) and is equally useless in his current job.
The issue for me Martin is that IDS and his team are lying. That can't be good. If your points about administration costs are correct then that is what IDS et el are paid to fix, not cobbling together some easy, half baked justification for treating some folk (many of whom may not actually have a vote) unfairly. If there's some income threshold over which the WFA isn't paid and that is applied universally then fine. But, personally I have always though IDS a twerp and if Roger can give him a headache chapeau!
Yes, John, it's a question of economics - but then all politics is, isn't it? The distribution of scare resources over limitless desires?
That's where this "saga" started and it's where I find Roger's stand on this so naïve and short-sighted, although I admire his steadfastness and I don't doubt his sincerity (I personally hate his methods tho').
If you remember, some years ago, the media pressure on the government of the day to respond to rising fuel prices through stories about pensioners' choices - eat or stay warm. The response was the WFA, a single payment to answer the media criticism.
Now, John, here's the tricky bit, who in their right mind would spend £2000 or £20000 per person to administer the distribution of £200? Or, even £1 more than was absolutely necessary? So, an injustice was committed by the government of the day.
Yes, they paid the WFA to people who the did not need it. And the current policy attempts to put some of that right but not at the expense of those genuinely "needy" ex-pats, except the EC rule won't allow it so it's all or nothing.
So, in your belief that Roger is right to campaign about any injustice, which injustice should he campaign about? The one that says some people who don't need the WFA should continue to get it or the one that says some people who don't need the WFA should continue to get it?
I don't believe that the number of ex-pats that are in real need of £200 cannot be supported by the rest of the ex-pat community in France IF WE PUT OUR MINDS TO IT.
And it would be a noble campaign for someone like Roger (who obviously has time on his hands and oodles of ability) to say "We've had enough of ex-pats just living off other ex-pats. We need to sort this problem ourselves".
And then sort it.
So Martin, what is your personal injustice threshold? 200 quid too low, OK. Is 2000 quid about right or maybe 2 million? The issue, in my opinion,is not the magnitude of the injustice it is the injustice itself. I admire Roger’s stand and this. It is an issue he can actually make a difference on and impact thousands of people. Well done him.
I asked our local Council if they had sent out the postal votes, only to find for the second time that they had not received our application for postal votes.
We had registered on line and we even posted our postal vote applications in separate envelopes this time.
Fortunately one of our old neighbours will act as a proxy for us.
I had said that no way would I vote Tory this time, but I tried to find information for the Lib Dems in Stroud on line, but nothing. I then tried the main Lib Dem site, but the Stroud candidate is the only one who had not bothered to put up his profile.
Obviously overseas voters have not figured in Stroud Lib Dem’s thinking!
I’m still deciding where to put my cross.
Sorry Roger, how many words does it take you to say you're missing the point? Obviously a lot. Please assume I don't need you to repeat the material from your "website", I'm not "hard of thinking" and understand the issues and the techniques of "misinformation" being used here by all sides. I'm not impressed, I guess you guessed that much! You have legal remedies available to you just as any citizen. So, take your points to court and see where it gets you.
Gross injustice? Who died for want of a winter fuel payment that could not have been saved by practical help from responsible neighbours? To suggest this is a "gross injustice" is highly offensive to those who are dying for want and to those that support them in the most practical ways they can.
I suggest that, if you know of people in need, you concentrate your energy on helping them in more practical ways rather than making it the responsibility of politicians who, as I said before, have a poor record in this respect.
How many words will it take you to say "I know lots of people in need but I'm not doing anything practical about it"? Oh, but you already have, haven't you? Or maybe I've been misinformed.
And I'm with you on that Roger.