More than 100,000 expats to lose winter fuel allowance after Osborne reveals plans for 'temperature test' for the benefit
- Chancellor will unveil proposals to restrict expats from claiming the benefit
- He will confirm today there is to be a crackdown on the
- Almost £2million goes abroad every week to claimants
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 17:21 EST, 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:29 EST, 26 June 2013
More than 100,000 expat pensioners face losing winter fuel payments as George Osborne today reveals plans for a ‘temperature test’.
The Chancellor will unveil proposals to restrict elderly Britons living in warmer countries from claiming the benefit – worth up to £300 a year – according to government sources.
There has been increasing controversy over pensioners’ free TV licences, bus passes and winter fuel payments, with half the Cabinet arguing that they should be limited if further squeezes on working-age welfare are to be justified.
Scroll down for video
Cuts: More than 100,000 expat pensioners face losing winter fuel payments as George Osborne today reveals plans for a 'temperature test'.
David Cameron pledged at the last election that the fuel payments would be protected until 2015, leading to months of wrangling over whether expats should also keep their benefits.
However the Chancellor will confirm in today’s spending review that there is to be a crackdown on the so-called ‘sunshine benefits’ after the next election.
Almost £2million goes abroad every week to claimants who qualify for welfare despite leaving the UK.
It is expected that pensioners living in European countries, who can currently claim a range of benefits, will lose winter fuel payments if they live in a region with a higher average winter temperature than the warmest region of the UK.
This system would disqualify an estimated 120,000 people and save £30million a year after 2015/16, when it is expected to come into force.
Controversially, richer pensioners who have emigrated to colder countries will continue to receive the payments, while poorer pensioners will lose it if they live in warmer areas.
Plans: The Chancellor will unveil proposals to restrict elderly Britons living in warmer countries from claiming the benefit - worth up to £300 a year - according to government sources
Traditionally, people have only been eligible for the winter fuel payment if they were living in Britain at the age of 60 and then moved abroad.
But thanks to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, the UK could be forced to pay out to all 444,000 British pensioners living abroad – costing us up to £100million a year.
The court insisted that any elderly expat should be able to get the fuel payment, no matter what age they were when they left Britain. And there has been a 13-fold rise in the number of expats claiming the benefit in the last decade.
The latest figures show 33,815 pensioners living in Spain receive the payment, worth £200 for the over-60s and £300 for those over the age of 80. This costs taxpayers £5.8million a year, despite the fact that temperatures in Spain can reach 63F (17C) in December and January.
There are 18,155 recipients in France, many of them in the south where winter temperatures are often a comfortable 57F (14C). Other warm countries with large numbers of recipients include Italy, Portugal and Greece.
‘The bill is going to go up further and that isn’t sustainable,’ said a source. ‘In order to keep the cost under control we are going to be looking at changing the rules and introducing a temperature test.
‘It can’t be right that a payment meant to help people through cold winters is going to those living in the Mediterranean.’
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith are among those in the Cabinet who have been pressing for a rethink on universal pensioner benefits.
Mr Duncan Smith told the Mail last year: ‘The winter fuel payment is about helping British pensioners with heating costs and it is ludicrous we could have to pay more pensioners living in hot countries.’
Around 12million people in the UK receive the payment each year, but critics say it should be limited to poorer pensioners who need help with fuel bills.
However thanks to Mr Cameron’s pledge, there is no question of winter fuel payments for those living in the UK being cut or means-tested until at least 2016.
MOST WATCHED NEWS VIDEOS
MOST READ NEWS
Headlines Newsview all
Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed at least 45 people in a village in Borno state, north-east Nigeria, witnesses have said. The gunmen who stormed Njaba ... Full story
Rate this article
Big Boys, Peter Okoye and Olu Maintain watched the English Premier League matches tonight in the best way possible After watching the game, the two music ... Full story
On-Air Personality, Eku Edewor was recently featured alongside Syndi8 Records boss, Lynxxx on the lifestyle cover of a popular newspaper, ThisDay, depicting the culture of ...
Information reaching us shows that in April 2015, drums would be rolled out to celebrate the 50 years in the acting industry of a veteran ...
With the 7th of March drawing nearer, the heat intensifies as RMD, Segun Arinze, Oc Ukeje, Yemi Blaq and Blossom Chukwujekwu battle it out for ...
In Enugu, a certain pregnant woman, is in police net for allegedly pouring hot water on her neighbour, who was accused of peeping on her ...
As the day for the Nigerian polls draw closer, there is tension almost everywhere, with few political killings happening in some parts of the country. Few ...
Ace Nigerian comedian, Julius Agwu, quoting famous late Indian activist, Mahatma Gandhi, ‘the future depends on what you do today,’ explained that people should not ...
Juliet Ibrahim shares beautiful new photos as she becomes a year older, See the new pictures the Nollywood Actress released after the cut ... Full story
The National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, leader in Oshodi, Lagos, Musiliu Akinsanya a.k.a. MC Oluomo, is as you read this wanted by the ...