Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Wednesday 26 June 2013

Winter fuel allowance for expats

There is a call for the Chancellor to save money by cutting the winter fuel allowance for pensioners living in warmer climes than the UK.
I must admit at the start that I live abroad and will be affected by these changes.
Putting aside the fact that many pensioners are suffering in their foreign homes and cannot afford to return. Many are suffering loneliness having lost a husband or wife and no improvement in climate can compensate. Their health may have deteriorated and they wish to return to the land of their birth for treatment. Nor for those who have lost all their money to scandalous property deals and illegal land grabs. Putting aside all these considerations, there are other reasons for maintaining this allowance.

1. Expat pensioners have paid into the scheme all their working lives and are entitled to receive their pensions IN FULL and spend it how and where they like.
2. It is not true that they do not need a heating allowance. It gets very cold at night in Southern Spain, for instance, from December to March.
3. They make no call on the NHS overstretched resources and do not clog up the UK's congested roads with slow driving; something I would have thought that taxpayers and Ministers would applaud.
4. They act as unpaid overseas ambassadors, by their behaviour and deeds pressing their case for Spaniards and other nationalities to visit the UK.

The fuel allowance is not a lot of money but it is the principle and bearing in mind the cost of administration, punishing expats in this way may, in the end, be counter-productive.

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