Thursday, February 05, 2009

The controversial Winter Fuel Payments scheme

Entitlement to Winter Fuel Payments from the UK is a thorny subject for pensioners here in Spain. There is after all a lot at stake; currently couples over 60 years of age are entitled to £250, those over 79 - £400. It might not cover the heating bills for the winter quarter but it would help.

The rules

You should qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment for the winter of 2008/09 if, during the qualifying week of 15-21 September 2008, you were:

  • aged 60 or over and
  • normally living in Great Britain or Northern Ireland
Payments may continue if you leave or have left the United Kingdom and are living in another EEA country.

If you left the UK before the qualifying week you may still be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment provided you qualified in a previous year and if you have moved to live in another EEA country or Switzerland.

So those of us who left the UK before reaching 60 do not qualify under these terms.

I could understand if anyone who wasn't resident in the UK during the qualifying week for that year was deemed ineligible for payment but that isn't the case. Payment of the allowance under the present rules prejudices those who chose to move abroad before they reached 60 -why?

This seems to be one of those arbitrary decisions made by a government body which is clearly wrong.

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