THE Prime Minister was asked in person by the Conservative MP for North Thanet, Roger Gale, during yesterday's Question Time why the government continues to ignore an EU ruling handed down 18 months ago that it must pay exportable benefits, such as sickness and disability allowances, to Britons living in the European Union.
Gale has close links with Majorca and has been at the forefront of the campaign to secure exportable benefits for Britons living in other EU countries, like here in Majorca, for over the past year.
On October 1 of this year, the European Commission served notice to the government warning that it is now in breach of the law for failing to pay disability living allowances and other exportable benefits to British EU expatriates.
Yesterday, Gale asked the Prime Minister to now give the order so that these mainly elderly and frail people, some of whom have served in our armed forces, receive the money that they need and deserve? Speaking to the Bulletin from Westminster last night, Gale said that if the government continued to ignore the rulings from the EU and the European Court of Justice, it could be penalised. The issue is now with the Upper Tribunal of the Social Services for hearings but the government is stalling. On the one hand they are trying to play the 26-52 ruling claiming that if someone has not been resident for 26 of the last 52 weeks, they are not entitled to exportable benefits. The European Commission has ruled against that. And then the government is claiming that the period in which would be benefactors should have claimed for back dated allowances has expired and they will now only be entitled to claim from the date of the fresh claim. The EC has ruled against that too. I will now be consulting the EC and the European Court of Justice to see what action they are going to take, Gale, who has been an MP since 1983, explained last night. Elderly and frail expatriates need these allowances more than ever. Winter is closing in, they've seen the tumble in the Pound significantly reduce the value of their pensions and income by a third and, because of the current economic climate, many are unable to sell up and move back to the UK. On the one hand the government is paying out benefits to new EU entrants with child care payments and other credits being sent home to places like Romania. The government is paying exportable benefits but to families in Romania - not people who have paid taxes in Britain all of their lives and, well within their rights, have decided to retire overseas.