Please see below the latest statement from Steve Webb the former Pensions Minister published yesterday.
There was some question a short while ago that this payment may be reinstated, I leave you to draw your own conclusion.
I thought I would also attach a photo for those without a dartboard!!!!
Prior to the Winter of 2015, Winter Fuel Payments (WFPs) were payable not only to pensioners living in the UK but also to those who had retired to other countries across the European Union (as well as certain non-EU countries such as Switzerland).
At a time when there was considerable pressure on public spending at home, the last government felt that continuing to pay WFPs to those who had retired to relatively warm countries was hard to justify.
As a result, a temperature rule was introduced for the winters of 2015 and beyond, whereby those living in countries whose average temperature exceeded that of the warmest region of the UK (the South West of England) would no longer qualify for payments.
The seven countries affected were Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain.
For some of these countries the temperature difference was so marked that it was hard to dispute the fact that pensioners in those countries were generally enjoying much warmer temperatures than those back in the UK. But for France the situation was more complex.
The Department for Work and Pensions published figures showing that the average temperature for France as a whole was 7.0 degrees, compared with 5.6 degrees in the South West of England.
On this basis, all pensioners living in France were excluded. However, it was pointed out that if the temperature was taken only for *mainland* France, the average would have been 4.9 degrees and, on this definition, anyone living in France should have been included.
The higher temperature is derived by the inclusion of what are known as the ‘outlying’ departments of France, namely: Mayotte (Comoros), Guadeloupe, Réunion, French Guyana and Martinique.
Critics pointed out that these much warmer areas were dragging up the average temperature in a misleading way.
However, the government said that since these outlying departments were still part of the French state, and because people living in those areas were just as entitled to WFPs as those living in mainland France, it would have been arbitrary to have excluded them from the calculation.
In terms of whether or not the government is likely to change the rules and resume payments of Winter Fuel Payments to those living in France, I’m afraid I think this is very unlikely.
Given that the present government stood on a plan to means-test Winter Fuel Payments even for those living in the UK (albeit now dropped), on the basis that they were a poorly targeted means of support, it seems hard to think they will be looking for ways to increase spending on Winter Fuel Payments by reversing the exclusion of those living in certain European countries.