Britain To remove winter fuel allowance for expats in Spain

From the Times today:
British pensioners living abroad in countries warmer than the UK received more than £16 million in winter fuel payments last year, according to official figures.

The payments, of up to £300 a year tax-free, are intended to help the elderly with heating bills.

However, more than £8 million was sent to pensioners living in Spain, £5 million to those in France, £1.4 million to those in Cyprus and £579,000 to those in Portugal. The total amount paid to British pensioners living abroad in European countries rose slightly, from £21.4 million in 2012-13 to £21.7 million in 2013-14.

The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that the government intended to legislate to remove the benefit from pensioners living in countries where the average winter temperature is warmer than the warmest region of the UK.

A DWP spokesman said that, subject to Parliamentary approval, from 2015-16 winter fuel payments would no longer be payable to people living in Portugal, Spain, Greece, France, Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus.

“Winter fuel payments are intended to encourage older people in Britain to keep themselves warm. It was never intended to be paid in warmer countries,” the spokesman said.

Almost half of people (46 per cent) are more concerned about meeting the cost of energy bills this winter than they were last winter, according to a survey commissioned by Co-operative Energy. Six per cent were less concerned, while just over half (51 per cent) said they had cut back on other spending in order to pay their energy bills.

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