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British pensioners living in the EU could lose their Winter Fuel Payments

The new EU/UK Free Trade Agreement may allow the UK Government to stop providing Winter Fuel Payments (WFP) to British pensioners living in the EU.

Though the regulations around the WFP payments were tightened in 2015, so that pensioners living in warmer EU countries (e.g. Spain, Portugal and Cyprus), lost their entitlement to the payments, EU regulations ensured that British pensioners living in most EU states remained entitled to the annual payments (worth up to £300 per pensioner).

However, the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement specifically states that the international Social Security cooperation elements of the Agreement shall not apply to payments which are paid to meet expenses of heating in cold weather.

The new Agreement does not automatically mean that British pensioners living overseas in countries such as Austria, Ireland or the Netherlands will automatically lose their WFPs. Any such decision would be a decision for the British Government of the day. However, the move does highlight the additional challenges which British pensioners living overseas may face over the coming years.

On a more positive note, the Agreement does ensure that British pensioners living in the EU will continue to benefit from rises in the UK state pension. Without this deal, it was possible that British pensioners in EU states could have (as is the case with those British pensioners who retire to countries such as South Africa, Trinidad and the Bahamas), suffered a ‘state pension freeze’. This means that their state pension could have been frozen at the amount they were entitled to when they retired overseas.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to discuss the above or how it may affect you, please get in touch with your usual Blick Rothenberg contact or Robert Salter, using the details to the right.

For any press queries, please contact David Barzilay whose details are to the right.