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News: Expats bask in UK warmth

Wed, 26 Sep 07

During winter 2006, British expatriates claimed more than £6.5 million in winter fuel payments whilst living abroad...

Bank of Scotland International takes a look at Winter Fuel Payments and where most Brits claim this benefit whilst residing overseas.

The largest population of expatriates receiving their Winter Fuel Payment abroad, during winter 2006, were residing in Spain where almost £3.5 million (£3,486,050) was paid out. The next highest population was in France with just over £1.5 million (£1,540,950) received.

Top ten countries where pensioners received the most Winter Fuel Payments:

Winter Fuel Payments by Country

Winter

2005

£'s

Winter

2006

£'s

Spain

2,754,450

3,486,050

France

1,019,600

1,540,950

Republic of Ireland

388,300

606,500

Cyprus

188,410

349,000

Portugal

80,200

119,700

Italy

75,000

105,800

Germany

58,500

97,300

Greece

51,300

85,300

Malta

38,040

69,400

Netherlands

14,400

26,400

What is a Winter Fuel Payment?

In the UK, all state pensioners over the age of sixty are eligible to receive a Winter Fuel Payment to help pay towards heating bills during the colder months. This is usually paid automatically to any person receiving a UK state pension and does not affect any other benefits received.

To qualify for a payment for this winter, the pensioner must be receiving their state pension during the week 17th to 23rd September 2007*. Payments are normally made from November onwards for a period of several weeks and all applications for winter 2007-2008 must be received by 30th March 2008.

Receiving Winter Fuel Payments abroad

It is also possible for some Pensioners living outside the UK to claim this tax free assistance. To qualify, the expatriate must still be in a receipt of UK state pension and reside in a European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland**.

Those not in receipt of a UK state pension, may still be eligible to claim and can do this by filling in a Winter Fuel Payment claims form. This is freely available and can be obtained by calling the UK Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 08459 151 515.

Pensioners not already receiving Winter Fuel Payments should only need to submit a claim form in the first year of entitlement. After this, Winter Fuel Payments should be issued automatically as long as the circumstances of the individual do not change.

People who are entitled or already receiving this benefit should tell the Winter Fuel Payment Centre if:

  • They move home.
  • They change their bank details.
  • They stop getting benefits (not including housing benefit, council tax benefit and child benefit).
  • Or if they undergo any other change of circumstance which may affect the payment.

Tony Wilcox, managing director of Bank of Scotland International said: “Even though many expatriates choose to escape the colder months in the UK by moving to a warmer climate, their fuel bills are still likely to increase during the winter. Many expatriates do not realise that they are still eligible to receive a Winter Fuel Payment despite living overseas.

"When moving to a new country, it is important to plan your finances carefully. It is often a good idea to see what benefits are available to you before you facilitate a move as these can often be easily arranged whilst still residing in the UK."

Winter Fuel Payments Timeline

Winter

Changes

1998/99

·                                 Payments available for eligible EEA nationals living in EEA countries who had previously qualified for a payment in the UK

2000/01

·                                 Those under custody serving a sentence during qualifying week no longer entitled to receive a payment

2002/03

·                                 Payments available in Sweden for EU and Swiss nationals only

·                                 Swiss nationals able to receive payments in EU countries

2003/04

·                                 Payments available to non-EEA nationals in all EU countries with the exception of Denmark

2004/05

·                                 Payments available in 10 new EU states

·                                 Payments to nationals of 10 new EU states not available in Sweden

2006/07

·                                 Payments available to Swiss nationals living in 10 new EU states

2007/08

·                                 Payments available in Bulgaria and Romania

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