Saturday, June 29, 2013

Winter Fuel Payment - part two

I and my colleagues involved in the campaign to achieve representation  of the British Expatriates in parliament have been heavily occupied answering emails, telephone calls, and interviews with the press on the matter of the Winter Fuel Payment.
Fine! O.K!  But does George Osborne know how mad, angry, people are?  No – I guess he doesn’'t. And I do not suppose he cares that much.  You, the expatriate Briton, either do not have a vote or perhaps like the majority of those who could vote, you do not bother to exercise it.
At the end of this piece I give you two contact addresses.  But let me highlight two  aspects of what has been said or reported.
1.  Above all is the interaction between British Governmental/Ministerial intentions and EU law.  Where relevant, the EU law is superior and must be observed. The WFP is only paid within the EU/EEA, by the British Government. Not further afield.
The winter fuel payment is defined within EU Law as an old-age benefit.  Such benefits have to be administered without discrimination across the European Union/EEA.
Mr. Osborne says ' ‘EU law now says’'.  Not true.  EU law has said it all along!  It is just that that the situation has been brought to the Government’s attention through a judgement in the European Court of Justice.
2. To avoid paying the WFP to every State pensioner, the Government is trying to impose a temperature gauge.  They are attempting to show that pensioners who are resident in countries (please note!) which are claimed to be warmer in the winter months than the region of the SW of England in the same months shall not receive it.
There is an error of logic here -  The statistics are (apparently) averaging a full country and comparing this with a English district.  So though a pensioner may live in the Auvergne or the Rhône-Alps, or the Alsace districts of France, or the Sierra Nevada in Spain, all places that in winter are certainly less mild – and even severe compared to–  the Scilly Isles or Cornwall, they will be discriminated against.
So, surely it should follow that if you live in a region comparable in administrative size with the SW of England, then if this temperature threshold is adopted, then that threshold should apply to that of  the administrative region where you reside?  So using France (with which I am more familiar), the comparison should be with administrative regions like Alsace (to the east of France which includes Strasbourg!).  But more than that, if a threshold is so defined, then if you, in your location can demonstrate that your temperatures do not reach that threshold, and are refused the WFP then you would rightfully have a case against the UK Government.  The benefit cannot depend on just where you live. That is discrimination!  We are inquiring as to the Statutory legal background to the possible introduction of this regulation, through our MPs.
I doubt if this temperature threshold concept would pass the scrutiny of EU law.
3. Many have noted the anomaly of Italy - No comment.
I have had correspondence from pensioners surviving harsh conditions in France.   My article of March 2012 details a few!
The answer (as I have said before) to my mind, is to incorporate the WFP in some manner into the State Pension and thus make it taxable.  In that way the better-–off whether they live in the Scilly Isles or Scarborough will lose some in tax. 
You can make your feelings known by telling the truth as you see it by writing to George Osborne at the following address
For the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Mr. George Osborne,
The PEN (the WORD) is MIGHTIER than the SWORD  - Wield it!
The VOTE is the most valuable weapon of all. It sharpens the force of your words.   Democracy depends on it.
Demand the VOTE and for heaven’s sake USE it – but of course most of us have no vote and far too many others lamely say ‘why should I vote?’  Here then, most clearly is a reason why.  Without Democracy you will be trodden on. Without the Vote in the background, your sword has no edge, and is but a toy.
If Britain pulls from the EU you will undoubtedly lose the WFP anyway!  And other benefits of belonging to this great enterprise.
Politicians fear the weapon of the vote.  It is more like a cupid’s arrow. It gives power to those whom you respect.
You need the Vote.  You can give your opinion on that subject by contacting the parliamentary committee on overseas representation, which has its  next meeting on July 3rd, at
 [Author Brian Cave)***************
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