Thursday, January 2, 2014

Winter Fuel payment in Europe - Dept of Work & Pensions manipulation of Statistics.

This message has been sent to all members of the Select Committee for Work & Pensions.
From the Campaign for Representation (votes) for Britons Abroad, and
Pensioners Debout! [Stand up!] France.
Look at the end to see what you can do.   This 'tail piece' was not included to the Select Committee members.

The Winter Fuel payment in Europe
The Manipulation of WFP and Temperature statistics by the DWP .
NOTE! ---A resumé of a much larger briefing paper to be viewed here   (if the link fails please copy and paste the address to the left in your browser)

July 2011Following a European Union Court of Justice  (CJEU)* judgement which in train confirmed  that ‘old-age benefits’ for eligible British Citizens should be paid across the EU, Iain Duncan-Smith said.
We will fight these ridiculous EU rules. The Winter Fuel Payment is about helping British pensioners with heating costs and it is ludicrous that we could have to pay more pensioners living in hot countries.”
June 2013 – George Osborne said “…. from the autumn of 2015, we will link the winter fuel payment to a temperature test; people in hot countries will no longer get it”

July 2013 the DWP said The WFP-Temperature Link  proposal lists 7 countries (Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain) that will become out of scope for payment of WFP."

The DWP has consulted the Met Office but not the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia from where the temperature data originated. The DWP has used this data supplied by the Met Office to fit its policy. The  paper (available via the above link) details this history thoroughly.
An FoI request to request a view of the actual correspondence between the DWP and the Met Office, has been partially refused, though a copy of the Met Office report to the DWP has been received and can be read here -  [It is 70 pages in size]. (if the link fails - paste address into a browser)
The Met Office  has independently disclosed that they used the CRU data and “
the report provided two temperatures, one to include the French départements d'outre mer (DOMs), and one without. The average winter temperature for France (including the DOM's) is 7.0°C; without DOMs, it is 4.9°C.
The above report details temperature data for the SW region of England and computes an average winter daily temperature of 5.6 degrees C.  This temperature the DWP used as a standard to compare with temperatures of countries in Europe.
The chart below gives these comparisons
But in order to formulate France as  a ‘hot’ country, the DWP report  incorporates the Nov-March temperatures for the tropical French DOMs (Overseas Departments)  - i.e French Guyana, Martinique, Réunion,  and Guadeloupe [officially listed as Outermost Regions of the EU]  into the figures for mainland France. [Similar measures are used for Spain and Portugal.
This was done solely for political reasons – no other.

There is no professional geographer who would classify the DOMs as geographically part of

The data published by CRU (available to us) is not in agreement with the Met Office/DWP Report -

e.g for Italy the CRU gives 7.54 degrees C- The Met Office/DWP gives 5.7.- BOTH are above the 5.6 in the DWP report for SW England.  Yet the DWP has classified Italy as 'not hot'.  Statistics have been chosen to fit a policy.

To the left is the isotherm distribution for Europe (January) . The whole of  mainland France lies within the same isotherm distribution range as Britain and so does much of Spain and Italy.
The Outer Hebrides and Belfast lie on the same isotherm as Lyon.
Oddly, both
Italy, and Ireland (marginally on the CRU data) have, warmer winter temperatures than SW England yet the DWP do not classify these countries as ‘hot’. Data -for Ireland CRU - 5.64 : Met/DWP  5.5
Why has the DWP  classified
France and Spain as ‘hot’ and Italy (and Ireland?) as ‘not hot’? 
With Ireland, the data (from CRU or the MET?) may be related to the delicate political situation. To exclude Britons in Southern Ireland (eg Donegal) whilst retaining those in Northern Ireland would be politically unacceptable.  But there again -- to somehow define Italy as 'not hot' on these confusing set of statistics is a mystery.

Is not the true reason because the number of WFP payments for 2011/2012  are as follows?
  33,815   -  France  18,155   - the two highest in Continental Europe.   The data is manipulated to save money, without consideration of the citizen.

Whilst Ireland has 7155 ,  Cyprus 5420, Portugal 2080, Italy 1425. Greece 1,405, Germany 1220, Malta 1110    ----  All other countries are below 400 each.
Aged British Citizens in straightened financial circumstances, who happen to have chosen to legally reside in other countries of the European Economic Area, recently delighted to have this extra help, would once again be deprived, unless this disgraceful affair is exposed.  These ageing Britons have no political voice, and if it were not for the concern of a very few of the more able of us, the matter would remain hidden.

Brian Cave (  (with acknowledgements to R. Boaden)

WHAT YOU CAN DO ----[This version is sent to all activists.]
Liberal Democrat
1.  To the left is listed the members of the Select Committee for Work & Pensions.  Clicking in any one will raise a profile and an email address.  You can write as follows, but try to use your own phrases..
"Dear xxxx,  I am not one of your constituents* but I have no other way of stating my views. You will have received information on the manipulation of data by the DWP concerning the suspension of the WFP for people in continental Europe --- Here state your circumstances.  If you are hard up say so.  State the climate where you live. etc etc."

2.   *If you still have an MP, write also to him/her.  You can also claim attention from the MP of the constituency where you were last living in the UK.

3.  Get people to sign this petition [ ]  Few people realise the importance of this.

4.   Circulate this message.