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Winter Fuel Payments

Volume 477: debated on Friday 13 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether winter fuel payments are payable to pensioners living outside the UK; and what representations he has received on this matter. (209142)

Winter fuel payments are paid to former UK residents living outside the UK but within the European economic area only if they qualified for a payment before leaving the UK.

There are regular representations on this issue in the form of correspondence and parliamentary questions. Following recent interest, I asked departmental lawyers and officials to fully re-examine the reasons for paying winter fuel payments to former UK residents now living elsewhere in the European economic area. Under European Union law, some benefits acquired in one member state must be paid to people who live outside that state but within the European economic area. Winter fuel payments are one of these benefits and the UK is bound by European Union law. To comply with European law we must continue to pay winter fuel payments to former UK residents living elsewhere in the European economic area if they qualified for a payment before leaving the UK.