Winter Fuel Payments - Have you received yours?

Our 2014 WFP just arrived in our UK bank. As I thought that these had been stopped for residents of our 'extra-warm' country, I wasn't displeased.

Are these still being paid generally, or is it just this year? Does anyone know what's happening about all this? Surely court action, similar to that by the Swiss-resident expat that got the initial ruling, will be brought if the UK sets discriminatory rules that don't apply in the UK.

Yes, I was reading about that this morning Jane. I would love to see an IDS excuse along the same lines as Osborne's climb down, but suspect that even if Cameron is in office after May he may not be in that job. It is highly winnable because the DWP has done it the way they have and the attempt to get round the two previous judgements does not go in the UK's favour.

It is very interesting that the Chancellor has just backed down with his objections to the cap on bankers’ pay, following a statement from the European Court of justice that it would not be accepted.
A Labour MP is asking a question as to how much money has been wasted in pursuing this aborted challenge.

Thanks Roger. I am without time at present really but would appreciate seeing it. Since we are 'friends' already send me a copy that way. The ECJ waiting time is an average of two years before cases are examined according to what I found last night. We want quicker, but nonetheless.

For a time now I have been compiling evidence, built on responses from the DWP; responses obtained through Freedom of Information requests; and hours of careful research, and have put together a detailed Briefing Note. It’s now 20 pages long, but I hope it contains everything anyone would need to use in defence of our rights to receive the Winter Fuel Payment.
Those rights are enshrined in European Union Law built on several Treaties signed by successive Government and Prime Ministers down the years. Something which is Central to our rights in that is the right to exportability.
The fourth of four key principals as laid down by the European Commission says:
“If you are entitled to a cash benefit from one country, you may generally receive it even if you are living in a different country. This is known as the principle of exportability.”
The ‘temperature test’ policy of the DWP fails that test because it is far too exclusive in nature. The proposal to base the entitlement to the Winter Fuel Payment on the average winter temperature of only one region of the UK, alongside the average winter temperatures across each country of the EEA and Switzerland, does not coordinate with EU Law, as it is not based on objective considerations of public interest independent of the nationality of the persons concerned, and is not proportionate to the legitimate objective of the national provisions.
I have recently been in contact with a number of leading European Law Professors in some leading European Universities.
Two comments stand out: “It seems wholly unreasonable to me to calculate a French winter temperature average in this way. What matters is not the average temperature in a particular Member State, but the individual circumstances of the beneficiary. Of course, some kind of averaging may be defensible, but not the kind which DWP appears to employ. That, to me, is clearly not a good-faith implementation of EU law, and I have little doubt that the Court of Justice would come to the same conclusion. Comparable cases need to be treated equally.”
And: “I think your arguments are strong in law”
Brian - we need to see the legislation the Government proposes to use before we can join the Court of Justice queue, but you are quite correct in my view, this proposal, if it goes ahead, will end up with the Court of Justice, because it was a deliberate attempt by the DWP to ‘get round’ two Judgments from 1991 and 2011 which they did not like. Watch the Autumn Statement on 3rd December!
If anyone reading this would like a copy of our Briefing Note, please send me a message via SFN with your email address, and I will send you a PDF copy.

I agree Peter but standing in the queue for the European Court of Justice will take us beyond the forthcoming general election and new legislation from a change of ruling party might avert that.

I have not had mine yet but then they fouled up last year and it appeared in February after two angry calls to the UK.

Roger, I have little expectation that action by UK MPs would achieve anything, as there aren't any votes in it for them. Only European Court (CJEU) action against a discriminatory regulation is, IMHO, likely to succeed. The question in my mind is what will be necessary to achieve this. Of course, if the UK enacted legislation where local temperature had a relation to whether this payment was made or not, things would be different. If no such criterion applies to UK recipients of this benefit, it is, in my view, discriminatory to make it applicable to expats resident within the EEA/Switzerland.

My MP, who is the member for Stroud, Glos. has done nothing but pass on my letter to the DWP. He is not interested in putting his head above the parapet for his voters.

We have no problems with an income on WFP, but object to the dishonest and underhand way WFP is being manipulated, particularly the fact that Ireland receives the greater number of payments, which was never mentioned at all!

Following a July 2011 Judgment in Stewart in the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU), Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail he was ‘furious’!
In July 2013 the DWP issued a brief:'Payment of Winter Fuel Payments in EEA’ which stated:
"The proposed WFP temperature link (WFP-TL) limits the increase in overseas WFP expenditure by restricting the export of WFP to those who live in EEA countries with an average winter temperature that is comparable to that of the UK. The WFP-TL (announced in the 2013 Spending Review, SR13) is likely to apply from winter 2015/16, and the new rules would apply to all eligible people living in the EEA or Switzerland from that point onwards, whether they were newly eligible for the payment, or had already received the WFP in previous years. The WFP-TL proposal lists 7 countries (Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain) that will become out of scope for payment of WFP."
France was made ‘hot’ by a manipulation of the figures by including the average winter temperatures from places like Guadeloupe and Martinique with Mainland France to increase the temperature to make it ‘hot’. Italy which was shown to be ‘hot’ in figures provided by the Met Office, was not included in the ‘hot’ category, and therefore has to be deemed ‘cold’.
Net result WFP will cease next year 2015/2016 for all expats in those seven countries.
That is when the DWP comes forward with the legislative measure to set these new limits.
Everyone interested should be ready to communicate with their MPs in an attempt to divert the DWP from proceeding. Meantime both the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats have come forward with proposals to set an income limit on the Winter Fuel Payment in future.
We got ours yesterday too!