According to the legislation passed in Europe, 444,000 expats living in countries such as Spain and France will be able to claim the payment, costing the UK up to £100 million a year. Previously, the allowance could only be claimed by people who were over the age of 60 when they left Britain. However work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith is considering bringing a temperature test in to assess eligibility for the winter fuel allowance after the European Union (EU) ruling.
Mr Duncan-Smith has said he intends to fight what he has described as a “ridiculous” ruling, which comes at a time when the government is trying to cut spending significantly and many pensioners in the UK are in fuel poverty. He said he is eager for the payment to only go to people living in cold climates, which could result in there being a temperature test in the future.
Previously, the government has said that means-testing the winter fuel allowance, which currently goes to all pensioners regardless of their income, would be unfeasible because it would cost too much money. However, many pensioners may be concerned the temperature testing is another method of means-testing and stopping their payments.
There will be a second reading of these proposals in parliament next month, so it could become a reality.
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