Winter fuel payment article in Daily Mail

Apologies for sullying this site with an article from the Daily Mail but it contains a very interesting table showing the cost of winter fuel payments split between countries. As France is 3rd on the list at more than £5m IDS had to find a way to exclude the country from receiving payments under the new rules.

It's clearly ludicrous that expats in Italy will still benefit but those in France will not. The table explains everything.

Hi Roger and thank you

All grist to the Mill as they say!


PS I have ordered extra Grist from Amazon, Guatemala!

Peter, speaking of charts - take a look at this one! It appeared in a Government publication about Cold weather Planning published in October last year. This advice is 'official' advice which shows that any outside temperature below 8°C is one at which increased risk of death observed! Three countries on the proscribed list are recorded at 7°C, 7.1°C, and 7.3°C - namely France, Greece and Spain, even after the DWP 'fiddled' the figures for France and Spain. The sister publication Cold Weather Plan 2014 was published alongside, and the Steering Committee for that had two senior DWP officials represented. Since they clearly knew the advice, why did they not advise Ministers? Of course the DWP will rush in to tell us these documents only apply to British Pensioners living in England. We say, the advice is sound for any British Pensioner wherever he or she should live, whether it is in Bristol, Blarney, Basel, Bologna, Bordeaux or Barcelona. Cold weather affects older people the whole world over, particularly those who already have health issues, and what the Government publications show is just how vulnerable individuals become when temperatures fall below a certain level.

Roger, you make a very good point though I think we should continue to press on with the campaign.

But, in my dealings with the Treasury, with one chart that illustrated the nonsense of that was being done, I was able to change policy. Now admittedly the minister involved was a whole class above his predecessors able to say as he did, in effect, I will change the policy. He did allocate more funds but the downside was that how they did it was bloody stupid!

Further, I frequently get asked my opinion on some possible policy approach, under strict confidentiality of course. Some are just weird, some are very clever but so far none have seen the light of day. So it is possible that what was reported is an idea being floated but not policy. However, it does seem extraordinary as you rightly say the Press Office is giving out news that is contrary to the official policy and that MAY be deliberate.


PS: I am involved with the Treasury in only one very limited and specialised area so what I am reflecting is my experience which may or may not be typical.

Josephine, I'm amazed that the DWP press office is taking that view, it does not relate to what Iain Duncan Smith told the MailOnline on 30th December, and it most certainly does not relate to everything said for more than two years! So, if that is the case, then there might be a glimmer of hope, but only if they work by the figures submitted in the Met Office Report. That report showed 15 Regions of France below the 5.6°C shown for the SW of England.

For the record, it is important to use the correct title - and I'm not being pedantic - it is the Winter Fuel Payment, and not the Winter Fuel Allowance. The term is written into legislation, and calling it Allowance could easily let the DWP off the hook.

Peter, you are of correct, Winter Fuel Payment is part of the responsibility of Steve Webb, the No.2 at the DWP as Minister for Pensions. However, the vicious anti-expat drive comes from Iain Duncan Smith - Steve Webb supports a different policy, that of an income cap of the 40% tax threshold, confirmed in his Conference speech to the LibDem Conference!

Hi again

And just in case you do not know the minister responsible at the DWP is


Peter S


The minister responsible for this policy at the Treasury is

Priti Patel MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

The primary driver is the DWP but she will also have some input.

Peter S

Hi Josephine, that is very, very instructive.

If you all give me a few days, I will find out which minister in the Treasury is responsible for this policy besides DWP as another point that we can lobby.

As presented the revised idea is much more sensible.


Peter S

Hope this hasnt been posted before and I have missed it - this was a posting on another group


I have just been on the phone to DWP regarding winter fuel allowance. I was under the impression that it is too late to lobby for WFA to be paid to France; it is not! The lady in DWP told me it's still under discussion and that France is likely to be divided into regions to be assessed for eligibility. She said; 'they are looking at proposals to use the warmest place in UK (in winter) and compare with people's addresses in Europe'! I had thought that the WFA would be stopped, but she said it had only been a proposal in parliament and would be discussed further!
So don't stop lobbying No 10, your MP and anywhere else you can think of - we need the WFA!


I email Mr Cameron's office every day with the temperature update etc. here in 16140 the email address is I dont put temperature of WFA in the subject as then it is sent to the relevant department so hopefully one will go through

On 15th December the DWP laid a Statutory Instrument before Parliament. We should all lobby our MPs to put down an annulment motion (known as a ‘prayer’), to try and stop this Statutory Instrument before 23rd January (the 40th Day). If anyone reading this does not have an MP then go to and use that site to register to vote and then write to the MP where you last voted - that is if you have lived in France for less than 15 years.

The Statutory Instrument breaches my rights under EU Regulation 883/2004: This provides that cash benefits payable under the legislation of one or more Member States or under the Regulation shall not be subject to any reduction, amendment, suspension, withdrawal or confiscation on account of the fact that the beneficiary or the members of their family status family reside in a Member State other than that in which the institution responsible for providing benefits is situated.

The Statutory Instrument is in contravention of Judgments of the CJEU in Newton (C-356/89) and in Stewart (C-503/09).

On 30th December Iain Duncan Smith gave an exclusive to the MailOnline in which he used the words ‘absurd’, ‘offensive’, and ‘obscene’ when describing the Winter Fuel Payments paid to British Pensioners living in countries outside the UK. For a senior Cabinet Minister to use words like this is frankly a disgrace, but then he is perhaps setting out his Eurosceptic stall to challenge for the Tory Leadership again when he sees Dave fail!

Hi Mandy

Thank you for your reply but I deleted my comment when I realised what I posted was irrelevant. I will write as suggested.

The proposed change is badly implemented, though the idea of focussing this particular benefit on the needy is the right approach.

Many people have said in the UK that they do not need the £200, I certainly don't.

The payment could be easily converted to a taxable payment so that those in need, arguably not paying tax receive it all and those on higher tax brackets receive progressively less and that would work for all countries in the EU/EEA as well as the UK and would have the same effect of reducing the overall target.

I have been dealing with the Treasury for the last 10 years on a separate matter and am only too aware of how poorly good ideas are thought thru by officials in Whitehall. Just takes energy and as you see, a lot of time, but along with the pressure group I lead, we have been largely successful, so it can be done.

Peter S

I had a good 'outloud' guffaw when reading your first paragraph, about contradictions! So, let me get this right, you're living still in UK, you can't see why ex-pats would read a UK journal, and yet you yourself read a French paper, a German paper, and follow an ex-pat site....Hhmm..

Just to enlighten you, some of us ex-pats have property still in UK, family in UK, financial ongoing affairs still in UK, some of us are also planning a return to UK in the future, and yet you fail to see the relevance of keeping 'up to smut' via various channels easily open to us of matters pertaining to UK...And Nous sommes tout Charlie, as in if those on here want to score 'cheap political points', as you so rudely maintain, it is our right to such freedom of expression, and I for one am glad ANY expression of views is going on rather than some factions trying to stifle certain views they disagree with.

The problem is that WFA is for the EU only, not even UK friends in generally colder Switzerland get it. However, the point about the pensions frozen in several countries including Canada is another atrocity that needs to be seriously addressed.

Hi Peter

I guess you could start by sending the email suggested by Maurice and Josephine in this thread. I did this today and I hope everyone who read this thread will do the same. It doesn't affect me directly as I'm still in my forties but it's the sly manipulation of the numbers that infuriates me.

If you believe that is bad (and yes IDS is a particularly brainless and unpleasant politician) spare a thought for those pensioners who retired to Canada with a frozen pension (and just about everything else frozen too). They paid their contributions whilst working in the UK but they don't even make the list, although Canada would be off the scale of the winter temperatures chart that IDS and idiots complied.

There is a delete, the little red cross in the top right hand corner. repetitions do no harm though.

"Current payments were funded by past PAYE & NI contributions."

Unfortunately that's not how taxes work. The past NI contributions do not go into some fund to be spent in future years, they are really just taxation under another name and fund current spending commitments. So when the state pension was first introduced (by the pre-WW1 liberal government IIRC) it was paid out to anyone that qualified and was paid out of the then current taxation. This is why there is often so much worry about the burgeoning ageing population and the consequent increase in pension bills being funded by current tax payers. The winter fuel payment was only introduced at around the turn of the millenium, so it has only been paid for by taxes (including NI) that have been collected since that date. Plus it is not contingent upon making certain NI contributions (like pensions). If it had have been I doubt the govt wouldn't have been able to cut it.

That's not to say that the govt position is correct or that the decision shouldn't be criticised. The govt has just found an easy way to save money by cutting money from people who don't have proper political representation as a group.

But ultimately, would knowing that you wouldn't be entitled to a winter fuel payment affect anyone's decision to move to France ? To my mind the bus pass is a far more valuable item to give up, especially if you come from London where the equivalent, the Freedom Pass gives the ability to use bus, tube, tram and rail for free, something that must be worth around £5/6k per year.

Don't just write to the Clerk of the Work & Pensions Select Committee, write to your own MP as well asking him/her to pray against the regulations. A head of steam is needed to beat the regs - even if they are prayed against before the deadline, votes will be needed in any debate that follows; the prayer alone won't defeat them.

Done - and I'll email friends asking them to do the same.

A very worthwhile post.

Everyone should do this and send the info on to friends who may not have seen it.