MAY I belatedly enter into the on-going debate over the UK Winter Fuel Allowance.My wife and I have become more interested in the subject since she has just retired at age 60 and I am 62. As most of your readers will know, to whom this issue pertains, there is disparity over entitlement depending on your residential status and when this commenced. According to the UK Government website (www. thepensionservice.gov.uk/winterfuel/) and the helpline available through this page, the current situation appears to be as follows:
If you achieve 60 years of age, whether male or female, and whether you continue to work or retire, you are entitled to apply for the winter fuel allowance if you reside in the UK (or have a UK address), provided this has happened before the qualifying week in that year (in 2005 this is w/c Sept 20th.) Success will then also entitle you to continued automatic yearly payments irrespective if you decided to retire to Majorca (or any other EU destination) where these payments can be made. If, however, you removed to Majorca before you were entitled to apply, you will not be able to do so. If you were a UK pensioner and had moved to Majorca before the Winter payments commenced in 1997/1998, again you were barred from application. Now the UK Government says if you are a EU citizen, and have a UK address, and reach 60 years, you may also apply for this allowance, and if you return to live in your own EU country, you will also be entitled to continued automatic yearly payments. So we have the situation where my wife and I, who came to live permanently on this beautiful island cannot claim the allowance, we have her aged parents (81 and 92 years respectively) who cannot claim because they have lived here for 17 years and also the possibility of a Majorcan citizen who at 60 lives and works in the UK who can claim, and then returns to live in his homeland and continues to enjoy automatic payments in subsequent years. Now I ask you, where is the sense of justice in all this? I might even add the rider that last winter, in some weeks, Majorca was colder than the UK, but so what, who cares? All we can do at present is to say that for a maximum sum of 200 Pounds lost we have the privilege of living in this wonderful environment (that is if you can afford to write off such a sum equivalent to three months average electric bill here in winter), and what about the idiots who call themselves Civil Servants and their masters, the inept UK Government. They are rather like English footballers, overpaid and over there! At least they are a thousand miles away. My sympathies to all expats here and elswhere who feel this injustice and also could do with this payment; where are the MPs who are prepared to stand up and be counted to sort the mess out?
Paul Satterly, Sa Coma.
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