Now that global warming has covered the whole of Europe in a thick blanket of snow, will the Prime minister finally accept that the thousands of pensioners who moved to Europe over the past two decades do NOT live in a ‘hot’ country?
As recently as last December, we had the Daily Mail trotting out the tired old chestnut of :
‘Pensioners who have emigrated to warmer climes for their retirement are still receiving their winter fuel payments. It means that more than £13m a year is being paid abroad’ – dutifully illustrated by a photograph of two pensioners sitting in deckchairs on a summer beach.
Pensioners in Britain don’t need winter fuel payments if you wish to award them on the basis of summer temperatures! Nor do all British Pensioners living abroad – and specifically in France and Spain – receive a winter fuel allowance.
If you find yourself made redundant in Dover six months or six years before retirement, you will receive the winter fuel allowance when you get your pension. Live 25 miles away in Calais, and you won’t. So much for Europe.
This anomaly, whereby 80% of the House of Lords receive a winter fuel payment, whether they need it or not, whilst thousands of British pensioners, many of whom are now suffering real hardship thanks to the 25% reduction in the value of their pensions, are left to fend for themselves in this extreme cold weather, is ridiculous.
It is not helped by the subtly xenophobic comments of Liberal-Democrat Peers such as Lord Oakeshott.
‘It is farcical to be spraying out winter fuel payment cheques all around the Mediterranean.
‘The toast as they sip their sangrias in the sun at the Malaga golf club must be David Cameron and George Osborne.’
Surely more farcical to be spraying winter fuel payments round the House of Lords than to be penalising British pensioners for living in Europe?
Many of those pensioners would be entitled to far more in the way of benefits and pension top-ups if they were able to return to Britain – too many of them bought into the European dream, and are now trapped in penury in unsaleable apartments. Mocked by the MPs they still pay British tax to support – and denied a vote in elections.