Monday, 7 June 2010

Are EU expats about to be left out in the cold?

As the new coalition Government prepares its emergency budget for the 22nd June, recent reports seem to suggest that even expats could be affected by proposed cuts. An article courtesy of the Daily Telegraph discussed the fact that according to a senior government source, the winter fuel allowances of nearly 65,000 expat pensioners in the EU could soon be under investigation.

Currently British expats aged over 60 and living in the EU claim payments worth up to £400 each winter to help with their heating bills and in 2008-2009 these payments cost the British government around £13.8 million. Undoubtedly with Britain’s fiscal deficit posing a considerable threat to the economy, belt tightening is a natural consequence however the fact remains that this annual pay out to expats equates to less than 1 per cent of the total winter fuel allowances allocated by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Obviously, looking after elderly British citizens is one of the Government’s main priorities but the issue of expat winter fuel allowances raises some interesting issues. Firstly one of the most contentious aspects is that it is only available to those expats living within the EU, British expats who have moved outside this zone are no longer eligible leading to a potentially unfair divide based solely on geographical location. Secondly, with differences in the cost of fuel and local currency and exchange rate fluctuations, is a standard rate payment the most effective way of administering the scheme? Finally, with EU law suggesting that it is illegal for Britain to discriminate against citizens who live elsewhere in the European Union how effectively will the UK government be able to introduce these changes?

Whatever the outcome of the debate, the next couple of weeks promises to be an interesting time for expats and UK residents alike.

1 comment:

  1. Hi this sounds all to familiar for the uk govenment when it comes to looking after people that have paid their taxes all their lives, and now have the right to claim what's their's.

    Are we part of the EU or not.

    Regards Sam


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