British minister Wicks

The British minister responsible for employment and pensions, Malcolm Wicks, in Palma yesterday said that it was unlikely that expatriate pensioners in the future would receive supplementary benefits apart from their state pensions. Mainland-based British charities have been calling for the British government to expand benefits available to OAPs resident in Britain to Spanish-based British pensioners. One group on the Costa del Sol was even pushing for Cold Weather payments. Mr. Wicks in Palma, for an Anglo-Spanish seminar on Employment told the Bulletin “I can't hold out any great hope there (as regards supplementary benefits). The rights of people who are living abroad as regards social security are quite complex. You would have to look at it on a benefit to benefit case. When people decide that they want to spend their retirement in another country, they have to weigh the balance. Naturally there are benefits in living in a wonderful place like Majorca but there are also some disadvantages. You can't have the benefits of two societies rolled into one. I think most people will understand that you can't have the full benefits of the British welfare state if you live outside the country.” And as regards to cold weather payment...“well, no comment,” he said. Mr. Wicks heads the British delegation which is attending the seminar alongside the Spanish secretary of state for Employment Juan Carlos Aparicio. The main point on the agenda is the need to obtain full employment within the European Union. The British minister said that Britain and Spain were proving quite successful with 37 percent of all new jobs created within the EU being in one of the two countries. Wicks said Britain was also trying to encourage older people to continue working and also providing additional skills for youngsters searching for their first jobs. As regards the impact of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on the labour market in Britain he said that it was too early to say although he felt that Britain had a very versatile labour market.