Thursday, 7 November 2013


On 1st November a Briefing Note was placed in the Library of the House of Commons.
It is very revealing about the way in which the Government has gone about trying to find any way in which the Winter Fuel Payment could be blocked for pensioners living out their lives within the EU.  Here are one or two selected extracts which I think illustrate Government’s attitude.
§             …. recently, a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding payment of Incapacity Benefit to people living abroad has had implications for the rules for other benefits, including the Winter Fuel Payment.  It is now possible that people living in the EEA or Switzerland may be entitled to Winter Fuel Payment even if they did not acquire it first in the UK, provided they have a “genuine and sufficient link” with the UK and satisfy the other entitlement conditions.
§             In July 2012 the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, issued the following statement:   We will fight these ridiculous EU rules. The Winter Fuel Payment is about helping British pensioners with heating costs and it is ludicrous that we could have to pay more pensioners living in hot countries. We will protect taxpayers’ money and bring in temperature criteria so payments can only be made to British pensioners living in cold climates.
§             From 2015-16 winter fuel payments will no longer be payable to individuals in countries where the average winter temperature is warmer than the warmest region of the UK (South-West England). The Government has worked with the Met Office to analyse comparable winter temperature data across all EEA countries. The Met Office used recognised administrative regions for each country. For France this was the 27 regions, including French Guyana, Guadeloupe, La Reunion, Martinique and Mayotte. It does not include the French overseas territories, which are not part of the EEA.

A Government response to a Freedom of Information request reveals the following:
§             DWP commissioned the Met Office to produce a report which shows the average winter
temperature data for each European Union country and region of that country.

The Met Office used data sets of the monthly mean air temperature (for the reference period
1961-1990) for land areas of the globe, from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of
East Anglia
The Climatic Research Unit have said:
§             “For us France means mainland France and Corsica”.  The CRU goes on: “We got all country boundaries from a dataset at the UN.  The French overseas departments are in our dataset as different 'countries'   It doesn't make any climatological sense to include the French overseas departments”.
So, it looks more and more as if the Department of Work and Pensions are prepared to go to any lengths to prove their point!
If the DWP have used the Climatic Research Unit data for their comparative temperatures as the guide for establishing the hot/cold country tests.  France is quite definitely below the yardstick measurement they are using of 5.6C for SW England.  On the other hand if you add in the French Overseas Departments then the situation changes.  But there is something very odd indeed - when announcing that France was a ‘hot’ country, the DWP made Italy a ‘cold’ country, and yet the very figures they are using as their source clearly show that Italy is in fact ‘hot’!!
Mean Temperatures Nov-Mar from the CRU datasets C
UK Yardstick of the SW of England
Also Nov-Mar C





 United Kingdom

         Taken from an article Posted by Roger Boaden on November 6, 2013           

This is real proof that the British Government is able to walk over British pensioners who live outside the UK, simply by the undemocratic process of removing the vote after 15 years of overseas residence.
Are they also willing to give up all the taxes that are still paid to the UK Exchequer by those same pensioners.

It is scandalous that the UK Government denies voting rights to British expats who have lived outside the UK for more than fifteen years.

The UK should enable and encourage all its expat citizens – not just some of them – to participate fully in the political process in their home country, by giving them unrestricted voting rights in national elections, as in most other advanced democracies (and indeed in many so-called third - world countries).

It is vitally important for every expat citizen from the UK who has the right to vote, registers and uses that right [see the Electoral Commission website]. It’s no good complaining about UK government decisions that affect the livelihoods of the expat communities if those who CAN don’t use that opportunity to vote.

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