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LINK to FRENCH FORM for Pension Support ASPA

 

January 11th 2013

Letter to Lord Lexden from a correspondent

 

I write to add my support to the efforts of Le Fourquet to secure representation for British expats, and to support your contribution next Monday (January 14th) to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill.

 

I am British and will remain so. I moved to France in 2002 to help the recovery of the health of both myself and my wife, following life-threatening illnesses to us both. I have no intention of taking out French nationality, because I also consider myself to be a citizen of Europe.

 

I rely heavily on my UK State pension  -  perhaps not surprising when you look at what 23 years of contributions to the Agents Superannuation Fund provided. The only additional benefit I am entitled to is the Winter Fuel Payment, and I am horrified when I see Peers, and Conservative MPs calling for it to be stopped for expats.

 

Health matters are a different issue, and which I find extremely irritating. Because  the UK Government agreed that a British expat should be subjected to the ‘same’ as French citizens, it costs me £2218 per annum for the privilege of having a top-up insurance for us both, a cost which I consider to be a tax, and which, had we remained in the UK, would not be needed. That amount just happens to be identical to the annual cost of heating oil (for central heating only) for us at the present time! I believe I stay alive now because of the number of items of medication I need to take daily. Make no mistake, I do not complain about the quality of services provided by the NHS before we left, without which we might both have died; or for that matter of the French health services since we arrived. I believe both systems could learn much from each other.

 

If you are interested I would be happy to list those aspects of health care here in France which I believe could be copied in the UK.

For now you have our full support in your efforts to represent our views. Thank you for your efforts.

 

April 5th 2012           I am also 77 (in May) but although my family was poor during WW2, it was not as poor as yours!  My grandparents survived the blitz although the doodle-bugs landed not far from their home in East Sheen, SW London.

For several years now I have tried, in vain,  to help the groups fighting for parity for British state pensioners no matter where they live.  Your website and campaign have been brought to the attention of BAPA members (British Australian Pensioner Association - www.britishpensions.org.au/) by Peter Morris, President of the group. I joined several years ago.  My own pension was frozen for 13 years while living in Australia where my husband was working. We have now returned to the UK to live.  The total lack of understanding of the original reason for the National Insurance Fund stunned me, when I discovered that British people who had paid into the fund for 40 years were denied their annual indexing (and of course all the extras like winter fuel allowance) if they happened to live in the "wrong" country.

Labour Party MPs, replying to my letters, said they had "no intention" of doing anything to produce parity, the Conservatives (our local MP is David Cameron) have no intention of spending money on removing the inconsistencies, and the Liberal Democrats, who were sympathetic before they agreed to join the Conservatives in a coalition, dropped any interest in the subject. The excuse nowadays is easy - they can't afford it, but 62 billion pounds were left in the Fund after all other expenses were paid!  This sum is decreasing steadily.  There ARE individuals in each party who are sympathetic, but not enough to turn the tide. 

My husband, wants me to congratulate you on the last sentence of your biography - as I do!

With best wishes to your campaign, especially to the grey vote.  It needs to be made easier to vote from abroad.  One problem is to know how to vote!

 

February 2012  (after a recent posting on the site)

Good Evening Mr Cave.

Just as I was yesterday, I am typing Emails sitting up in bed. I am  fully clothed in three jumpers, two pairs of trousers and a track suit. 
My dear husband, similarly dressed, is tucked up beside me.  He is eighty-six,and suffers from from epilepsy and  a certain amount of mental confusion.
Outside the temperature is minus 2 degrees, and is expected to fall to minus 10 degrees tonight - a big improvement on the
minus 14 degrees we had last night.

EDF have decreed that those of us who use the TEMPO system should have ten, 'red days' over the last two frozen weeks,
meaning that those of us who live on the not overgenerous Old Age Pension can afford to use electricity only very sparingly.

We retired to bed at three o'clock this afternoon, when my husband found that crouching over our log-burner became too much strain
on his back.  The only room we can afford to keep warm is our bedroom, where we can use our electric blanket
plus a paraffin stove for warmth.  Our house has an antiquated central heating system which has broken down - and we can't afford to repair
or replace it. 
You will guess that we are, of course, Equitable Life Annuitants.
My husband served his country during the war,and worked all his life thereafter without claiming a day's unemployment benefit.
He finally retired at seventy, and  was actually proud that he had had the foresight to take out a policy with such a
well respected company.

  Because we loved France, we exercised our right to move and live, freely, within the E.U., and settled here in the SW.
We probably should have claimed for the Winter Heating Allowance before we left UK sixteen years ago, but at the
time we lived in a centrally heated home,and felt we did not need any extra allowance.

We do not expect  privileges not granted to other elderly British Citizens; but are exceedingly bitter that we are excluded
from allowances which are readily available to other Brits.
Please keep up your good work!
Sincerely,  W.L.

-----------------------------------------

Well said. I think UK needs educating about the pensioners plights in Europe. I hear too much UK government and media propaganda that plays down the suffering of us olduns. I have had to put many friends right regarding the attitude to expat pensioner and Equitable sufferers like myself and they are often shocked when they hear the TRUTH. i.e. we are NOT fat cats scrounging off the UK government; we are British pensioners with the SAME rights!
I hope this appears in the UK media.
James

 

January 2011 – Comments received after a TWO YEAR REVIEW was emailed to readers of the blog.

I would like to thank you for your regular updates on your brave efforts that I hope will prove fruitful in the long run.

You may not have reached your goals within the deadline but you have made certain progress. It is very interesting to learn from your journey into the bureaucratic jungle (as a lawyer in similar cross-border matters, I know how frustrating it can be).

Jean de la Fontaine said in the fable “Le Lion et le Rat”: patience et longueur de temps font plus que force ni que rage (patience and length of time do more than force or rage).

With all my encouragements,  [From a French lawyer.]

****

Just to congratulate you on your long e-mail 16 Jan. xxxxxxx and I have signed the petition concerning the privatisation of the French hospitals. You will have received a copy of my letter to *********** MP a copy of which I sent Mark Harper and to Mr R.Thomas. >From what you say we are both rapidly nearing our eightieth year ! What can I say but Bon Courage et Bonne Chance.

****

Thank you for your  recent message; it is a pleasure to read you and all that you have been doing on our behalf -Thank you. For several reasons - much related to health of both my wife and myself - I have not spent much time mulling over many of these issues, but I am very interested    xxxxxx

 I note your comments about 'opening a bank account' - it does seem ridiculous that one can continue to have an existing bank account as an expat, but not be able to open a new one !! I have just recently opened a savings account with xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx which I have understood from some forum was one of only two BS/banks which would open accounts for expats. The other was given as the Britannia, but when I asked that one, I was passed to their international side, based in the Isle of Man, and there any withdrawals to be paid into a bank account in the UK would be subject to a £30 fee each time.!! 

On the Winter Fuel allowance - yes I do get it - because I received it before we left the UK - yes it is a help, but I cannot say that we 'need' it - and I do agree that it should be a universal benefit for anyone in receipt of a state pension - if it is not to be 'means tested'. What seems so unfair in so many of these issues is that seemingly the only way to get change to a fairer system, and away from 'discrimination' of one kind or another is to make a legal case on the issue and be able and wiling to pursue it through all manner of lengthy court procedures.

 Wishing you and yours health above all, and wealth if you can get it - Bonne Année

************

 Well done, you are truly fighting for the rights of all UK pensioners living in France.

………… I now receive a French State Pension as well as my very meagre UK one.

 ………… Do the French have a winter fuel allowance?

 …….I have no idea what my rights are now, I receive the minimum UK pension and a couple of thousand Euros a year from the French?

 I am VERY CONFUSED!!

 Again Well DONE.   [This email is from an elderly lady and demonstrates the fact that many elderly people, although  totally in command of  their day to day affairs, find the bureaucratic situation of being British in France quite confusing, even though we are all European Citizens.]

***************

I continue to keep up with your Blog and can never thank you enough for all the effort you have put in on behalf of all of us.  I don't blame you in the slightest for easing back a bit now and concentrating on your naturalist interests.  You deserve it!  Once we sail into quieter waters (hopefully!) in regard to our current health problems,  I am going to write again to the Powers-that-be in Westminster about the Winter Fuel Payment.  I applaud David Cameron for the radical cuts he has made to get the country back on track economically but was amazed that he took no action concerning the WFP.  To anyone but you, it would probably sound like a case of "sour grapes" for me to say that he should have dealt with this on a means-testing basis as well as including those of us who live in Europe and who don't receive it, but I really do believe this.  To pay this £250 a year to EVERYONE over the age of 60 is absolutely ridiculous.  If they don't like the idea of means-testing (although the French government does it very successfully for all sorts of benefits), perhaps it would be sensible to raise the age to 70.  One assumes that Richard Branson and Andrew Lloyd-Webber get it (They are both now over 60) !!  Obviously, I have no idea of the figures involved, but surely this would have been a sensible and non-punitive way of saving the country a bit of money!  We have several friends in the U.K. who are in relatively ordinary but comfortable circumstances, who have confessed to feeling quite embarrassed about receiving this payment when they don't actually NEED it.
 
Although this doesn't apply to us personally, I am very concerned for those expats who, like yourself, are forced to have your occupational pensions taxed in the U.K. although, as I believe I mentioned to you previously, the several people we know here who are also taxed in the U.K., showed total apathy when I tried to gee them up to take a bit of action themselves.  To be honest, they simply didn't seem to care.
 
The health payment issue is a very important one and, once again, from all the reports I have read on your Blog, the proposed action would save the British government money as well as doing the right thing by British people living in Europe.
 
Finally, "The Vote" !  We are now officially disenfranchised, having lived in France for just over fifteen years, but the British government was quite happy to take 189 euros of my money to enable me to renew my passport a couple of months ago!

 

June 21st 2010

 
………. the Progress Report which really highlights just how much has been achieved since you started the blogspot eighteen months ago.  From our own selfish point of view, we are, of course, particularly gratified with the progress on the Winter Fuel Payment situation.  I think we all owe much to David Burrage on this one as well as to yourself.  I have just applied in accordance with the suggested letter you published earlier and will let you know the outcome.  There are so many anomalies in this situation and, when one looks at it objectively, it is really quite ridiculous that so many British over-sixties (especially men but more and more women these days) are getting the WFP when they are still in full-time employment, some extremely well-paid high-fliers.    Hopefully, the new government will see the nonsense in all this, apart from the EU legal situation, and take some action soon.  Of course, it may be that they will decide to withdraw it altogether which would probably save the country a huge amount of money.

The situation regarding the E121………… If the changes you so correctly suggest are made, I am afraid it (might) cause … bad feeling with the French. (in  the case  where the UK carries all health charges the ordinary French person should perceive the fact that the UK pensioner has paid the Nat. Ins. For all his working life.  The UK would in effect be the mutuelle.  At the doctor’s surgery there would be no difference).…………………. 
I still try, when we are with friends (old and new) who, like yourself, have to pay their occupational tax in the U.K., to draw attention to the Blogspot. …. I have not managed to capture the interest of any of them.  ………… One friend, ……….  told me that, after living in France for some years, he has never been asked to complete a Tax Declaration here!  He gets billed for his Taxe Fonciere, Taxe d'Habitation and he and his wife have Carte Vitale (presumably on their form E121) but  he declares nothing to the Tax authorities in France!  I know of at least one other couple, who lived here for  years and have now returned to the U.K. and they too never declared any of their income here.  I wonder how they got away with it.  We were sent a form, a month after we moved to France (we had bought our house 14 months before) asking, in a very peremptory way, why we hadn't submitted a Tax Declaration for the previous year!  I had to explain to them that we weren't even resident in France then which, happily, they accepted but, ever since, we have, of course, always received and submitted Tax Declarations showing the whole of our income.
 
….  our heartfelt thanks to you, …, for all your ongoing efforts on behalf of all the British expats.

 May 27th 2010 Some letters following the sending of the document on Health Costs to the Secretary for Health –Andrew Lansley.

****

I have skipped through some of the facts, but as you say - one mighty tome..
I have for ages been aghast that if were still to be residing in the UK, then all medical costs would be free as we are pensioners, but through choice we have decided to relocate to France, and for that reason are now paying something like 1600 euros for our top up, and I check only a few months back, as the reimbursements were getting worse and worse, and if I hadn’t paid anything for top up, I would actually have been 2300 euros in pocket after deducting what I was reimbursed..
I suppose most of us are feeling the pinch in many ways, the exchange, although that’s looking a lot healthier lately, the rate we can get on our savings, and I think the general hike in food stuffs and just about everything else in France. We come back from the
UK with a car loaded to the gills with food stuffs and almost the kitchen sink...
Anyway, its great that there are people around like you who take time to challenge these out of date systems, and to be honest very unfair practices..

****

My wife and I returned to UK last year after 15 years living in France.  For the last 11 of those years we were paying monthly for mutuelle health cover and the premiums were a lot more than 550 euros per year.  It is in the nature of such things that I don't suppose for one minute that any decision rendering future payments unnecessary would ever be retrospective.  However I would like to be kept informed of developments if possible.   [BVC – A slight error in my original – should have been £550 not 550 euros. But even so our mutuelle is the cheapest around.

****

 As you say Brian very detailed. I think that it stands more of a chance of succeeding now with the UK government's policy on saving monies.

 good luck, we do appreciate all your hard work without any recompense.

 ****

 The enormous top up bill that comes just after Christmas is one of the not so small financial brickbats that life sends along.   Brilliant work.

            The combination of having to pay the complementaire and receive the lowly British pension is a real squeeze.

 ****

March 13th 2010

I am, as always, cheered up by all your huge efforts to keep the expat thing going and we both admire your tenacity.  From our personal standpoint, we are feeling a bit at a loss in regard to our own personal "gripe", i.e. the Winter Fuel Payment.  Whilst we are 100% behind all the efforts that are going into putting things right with regard to things like the Disablement, Carers' Allowances, etc., and agree that they should be as high profile as they now are,  I just don't know where we are to go from here with regard to putting right this absolutely appalling case of blatant discrimination where the Winter Fuel Payment is concerned.  My complaint about it falls into two parts, really: 

 (1)  We have worked and contributed to our pensions and associated rights in exactly the same way as our compatriots who ARE receiving the WFP.  Why not us? 

(2)  By definition, we fall into the older (and, therefore, in most cases, the poorer) category of expat pensioners because we left the U.K. earlier.  In my own case, I was, in fact, already a pensioner before I moved to France but we missed out by one year, having come here in 1996 (the year before the WFP started).  We have several friends here, all considerably younger than ourselves (and richer because they sold their houses in the "boom" period in U.K.) who have, since arriving here eight years ago, received £2,000 in WFP.  Oh, how we could have done with this to help us with the ever-increasing cost of fuel and the need for more heating as we get older and the winters get colder!  We pay our electricity bills monthly now and I dread to think what we shall owe when the balance is made next October.
 
Sorry, Brian.  I suppose I am just "sounding off" again but I do feel so angry and frustrated about this discrimination and I just don't know what else to do about it, having already written to the PM and other leading politicians with absolutely no reponse.  I wonder if anyone else has got anywhere at all with this particular aspect of expat discrimination.  Shall be most interested to hear if you have any more comments on the situation.

BVC Note: A colleague is pursuing this matter.  So far – nothing to report. 

PLEASE write to your MP and/or parliamentary candidates about this.  The situation is most appallingly unfair.  Copy this note and mention the blog-site.

 

 

March 12th 2010

The following letter  relates to the disenfranchisement of British Citizens.  It was sent by a reader to the Ministry of Justice and the House of Commons Information Office.  Anonymity is retained.

 

"To Minister of Justice Rt Hon Michael Willis

 

Sir,   Throughout February we have been  involved in numerous communications, some most frustrating, some helpful ( like Jenny Walpole- at the House of Commons Information Office HCINFO@parliament.uk- ), to establish ourselves as Registered to Vote in the UK  from abroad ( France ). To date ******** (husband) has been confirmed as registered for one year from 1st April 2010. My wife, who applied at the same time, awaits confirmation of the application she made , like ******** , on 9th February. In both cases we have received advice that the time allowed for  despatch and return of our Ballot Paper may vary from 4 days ( official UK .gov website) to 7 or 8 days ( constituency offices ). All have stressed that these short time scales are because  the whole UK voting  process has to be conducted in 20 days and they have added that as our votes by post  are unlikely to meet the closing day , we should appoint a local UK proxy. Why should this be necessary when by extending the 20 days to say 30 days would allow us all . wherever we live in this Global World, to exercise our just rights and moral duty while respecting our privacy at the ballot box?  Please acknowledge and reply soon .   Thank You."

 

Jenny Walpole, please note that we believe our request is reasonable in this day and age where Government for the people has to recognise , especially in overcrowded Britain , that many like us who worked through the 60's to 2000 in the UK , have left to get away from the stress and social unpleasantness in much of the UK , but still have our lives controlled by UK Politics, the UK's attempts to over control the E U  and also the terrible £/Euro exchange rate  which makes our pensions devalued by 50% since 2000. etc. .

 

Please advise how to get the above message in bold and a reply to/ from  the Minister

 

February 13th 2010

The email below sent to the blog, displays the frustration ON THREE COUNTS OF a world weary aging lady.

 

"It is sods law. I did several years back tried to get a new bank account in the UK as I was not happy with Barclays. I tried HSBC, Co-op, and Nationwide. All of these I have had accounts with. [ 1. Cannot open a bank account in the UK]

I was told that 'you can not open an account without a UK address’, by all of them.

I was astounded as my brother in law had his accounts in Ireland when he lived in the UK and the reverse when he moved to Ireland. It was so long ago I threw the paperwork.

The MP for my old UK constituency is Desmond Swayne.

I don’t suppose he's much interested as I do not live in the UK and cannot vote as I left in 1987. [2. Cannot get proper representation – NO VOTE!]

I find it amazing actually that here, in my immediate area, there are people who get the WFP.

I was told I could not get it.

Funny thing is that the people who do get it, do not have to survive just on the state pension!!!!! [3. NO justice over the WINTER FUEL PAYMENT!]

My bank here previously told me that if I brought my money in by direct debit; I would have no charges.

This turned out to be untrue. One has to have your pension sent direct to your bank here to have no charges. BUT my pension is not enough. You have to have £400 to qualify (per month)

They get you every which way!!!"

 

Is it not utterly deplorable that the British Government allows this to come about, connives at such disregard for, treats so – an aging British citizen within EUROPE!

 (Gordon Brown - has he a conscience?  David Cameron - do you care?)

 

 

January 3rd 2010

 

This is the first time I have seen your concerns stoically voiced. They are all important and need to be addressed. As you say, there seems little concern in UK about expats especially Equitable Life expats. With worsening exchange rates we are losing what little Equitable pension we have and now that my wife won't get her pension until nearly 65, we are living like paupers. I am also concerned that my UK gov. pension due in 2-3 years may also be affected by the current situation in UK.

The result, none of our pension plans have been worth the investment and the carpet has been pulled from under us at each step! We may have to sell our home here in France to recover some debts but cannot really afford to return to UK! Not knowing how the French system works leaves us floundering to find out whether we are entitled to French assistance?

Resolving those concerns will certainly ease the situation but attitudes in UK need drastically changing too.

Keep up the good work and let us know if we can help at all.

 

 

October 31st.

Here are two replies to an update I sent to supporters.
 
Hi Brian,

Good on yer (as our Australian cousins would say!).  It was most interesting to read all you have to say in the update and I shall look for the gadget to make myself a "follower" of the site. 
 
I am so pleased to hear that you are now benefiting from a reduction in Taxe d'Habitation, even though this means that you, like the rest of us, have lost income.  We benefit from complete exoneration from Taxe d'Hab. and get 100 euros off our Taxe Fonciere every year.  As I will be 75 next March, it looks as though we will not pay any Taxe Fonciere at all after that date.  This is what I meant when I said earlier this year that the French government looks after its Golden Oldies on modest incomes far better than the British do for their expats.  I am now investigating another possible source of assistance.  This relates to something called Tarif Primaire de Necessite of the EDF and apparently is assistance towards the electricity bill of people on low incomes.  However, my research to date seems to indicate that it may only apply to people who are in receipt of Benefits which keep them below a certain ceiling, not people who do not receive Benefits but who are struggling on a low income anyway!  However, I shall keep digging.  Have you, by any chance, heard anything about this?  We do have some friends who are also on a low income (although a bit more than ours) and they get about 200 euros a year assistance from the French government towards their heating costs because they have oil-fired (we get nothing because we have all-electric!) - and they also get the British Winter Fuel Allowance of £300 a year.  Just another reason why I get a bit bitter and twisted at times!

 

Dear Brian,
Having pursued matters particular to the retired UK tax residents in France with such as Age Concern and Help the Aged I find that delivering representation in the UK for expats, wherever they may be, provides litle 'power kudos' and is therefore is of 'no interest'. We, as a group, are presumed wealthy enough (Cult of envy on their part and one of Greed on our part... both deadly sins) to solve our own problems.

There must be some morality on 'our side' if only we can find the right arguments that will suit.  For instance I have two issues that may, or may not be relevant, to this issue of 'representation'.

They are:

1. Duty of Care by the UK government towards a British Citizen abroad (we are not citizens of France)
2. Social tax benefits to us, the expats in France', as current tax residents of France, without political representation in France.
The primary problem of a 'retired' UK tax resident of France is the volitility of the exchange rate!   This volitility affects the tax paid to all the myriad of authorities in France, but if the retiree is to maintain a balanced income, solely sourced from compulsory government pensions, the fluctuations have to be ironed out with the help of the UK, France and the EU.

So we do need permanent credible non political  representation. One who can stop the traffic!

 

October 11th 

Hello there

 Just found your site and it is certainly enlightening!  We are proposing a move to France next year and have been trying to find out as much as possible, obviously, about financial matters.  We have been unable to discover the implications of having a UK government pension until finding your site. Therefore, we are still unaware of the impact of the UK taxed pension on our state pensions and one private pension when it comes to being taxed in France and until now have been unable to find any answers.  Would it be possible for you to direct us to a further site where an explanation can be found. It is certainly quite disgraceful the attitude of Government and politicians towards the expats but, sadly, not at all surprising.  They appear to serve the interests of very few and certainly not the hard working citizen.  One needs to be an asylum seeker or immigrant to matter, and they receive everything.  This is not a racist comment, we ourselves are looking to live outside the UK, but we will be paying our way, which is as it should be.  So the fact that they show no interest in expats is in no way surprising, only another frustration.  The culture here is "pay up and shut up". Any help you can give would be gratefully received.  Keep up your good work and you certainly have our support. 

Comment – I do not know of any other site which deals with these matters deeply.

 

September 23rd.   A long communication from a Retired Police Sergeant writing to an organisation of retired police staff has been received.

  It is too long to post here.  It exists as a posting on the main site and also can be viewed by clicking here

 

 June 15th.  A comment left on the posting ‘This appalling Government’.

This makes one desire to bring out the guillotine!  Is this Government a caring body of politicians! 

 I am one who does not qualify for the WFP as I came to France before the 1998 date. I am nearly 84, with serious health respiratory and heart problems which has led to me being hospitalised 3 times in the last 18 months. I am on oxygen. I have younger and fitter neighbours who get this allowance.
I think it disgusting that the government take such a penny pinching line. The numbers of those like me will soon decline. It is surely time they made a gesture to help ease our final years by treating everyone the same.

 

May 27th  - A letter with a complex set of ideas

Dear Brian,

Do you consider that representation of the expat will be a likely constituent  of the current H.o.C. reformation!  I think not because the cause in France is not widely appreciated. Apart from current ‘Connexion’ articles I find many of the English community nearby are more concerned over fighting UK politics as if they are still residents there.

It is an amusing and illumination dinner party, at many English community houses, when the political yah-boo sessions get going. Political ideology seems to prevail over the impact of UK governments ‘bilateral’ negotiations that might just beneficially impact their lives and lifestyle.

 It is however sad when, unilaterally, discussion of a more personal nature arise when the exposure of severe lack of understanding of the French language, culture and administrative process becomes evident.   Followed by the ‘mad’ and potentially serious ‘advice’ dispensed.

            The local Marie will never get involved until the Mayor is required to come and IDENTIFY? the dead. So there is little there in the way of help? Even the much vaunted CESU (domestic help) process ends up costing more than the authorities would have you believe.

 How many ‘integration’ associations do not provide more than unprofessional French classes and social get-togethers, but refuse practical help (Not of the contractual kind- because practical help costs and responsibility! And I have not met many UK Millionaire benefactors who are willing to openly declare themselves.

            We need leadership and promotion, but I suppose that too will cost. However if the Government’s/ EU stood up to the bar with positions or money, perhaps through  practical ‘Twinning’, there could be a fallback situation where the Twinned Authorities governmental representative could adopt the expats of the host country and give them appropriate municipal assistance and promotion.

            The report by Connection of the main UK (controlling) political parties activity towards expatriates is less than encouraging. If however Twinning Representation were to be adopted then each host municipality could have a voluntary political representatives to give voice locally.

I have researched the EU cultural section re twinning and have skirted the present proposals for Segonzac’s attempt at a UK position without finding available funding or process for airing my proposals. (political Representation problem!). Have you any suggestions?

Response-   I cannot add a great deal to this.  Apathy amongst the British expatriate population is rife.  Though people grumble.  Faith in the political process is at rock bottom.  This makes me think about the significance of  politics. 

The political process is there to provide THREE areas of good governance – The Economic health of the people, the Physical health of the people and the Social  health of the people. [The latter includes law and education]  Perhaps one should avoid the use of the word ‘politics’ and concentrate on where the British Citizen is hard done by the British Government- in league in some instances with the French.  But we are British Citizens and the British Government surely has a moral responsibility to have a concern for the well-being of us.

 

May 19th  Here is a serious case of someone who is discriminated against solely through some bureaucratic mess.  Again the British bureaucracy is preventing ordinary people living as best as they can.  A seriously ill middle aged woman wants to live with her mother

 in France.  Correspondence on this saga will be continued.

 Once again, it underlines the desirability of the existence of an MP who stands up for the expatriates in Europe.

Some emails have been written to the Parliamentary Works and Pensions Committee on this and related issues. Click to read.

Department for Work and Pensions

Warbreck House

Warbreck Hill Road

Blackpool

FY2 0YE

 

Dear Sir or Madam

 

I refer to your letter of 17 February 2009 regarding your decision to change the Disability  Living Allowance for my daughter Joan *********..

 

We looked into this very carefully before the decision was taken for Joanne to come to France  for health reasons and also to be near me. Because of the climate and healthcare we both felt that she would benefit from the slower pace of life here. And we had no reason to believe that her DLA payment would cease as we were assured that she met the necessary criteria. After having fought for six years to get this benefit and to be told it was awarded for life, it is a total blow to be told that she is no longer eligible.  How has her eligibility changed? Her circumstances are exactly the same as in the UK. She still has the same disability that she had in the UK and still requires the same amount of medication and even more care as her condition worsens. She suffers from Budd Chiari syndrome a debilitating disease which creates thrombosies around the liver and stomach.The illness is not well understood and there is no cure for it.  My daughter is only one of 10 people in the UK to suffer from this and is now to be penalised because she chooses to live in France. As her life expectancy is not good surely she can choose where she would like to spend the remaining days of her life?

There are days and sometimes weeks when she is totally bedridden, she has very little immune system and contracts any illness which is prevalent, her teeth are crumbling away because of the amount of Heparin (Warfarin) she has to take and she is unable to visit a  dentist for normal dental care when her teeth break away completely as she gets infections in the mouth and ear. Her doctor in the UK is reluctant to prescribe anti biotics because Joanne's immune system is further lowered.

She is also on a very high dose of Morphine and also Gabapentin for the pain involved and on occasion has to take liquid morphine (Oralmorph) when the pain is acute. She has a stent inserted into the Hepatic Vein (which connects to the liver) to enable food to be filtered through to the liver.  This has to be replaced every six months or whenever it becomes blocked.  This means hospitalisation which is usually over a period of weeks as she usually contracts infections whilst in the hospital. She is unable to eat a number of different foods because they a) either affect the blood by thinning i.e., green vegetables,  or b) because they contain vitamin B 12 which causes clots in the blood. As France and England have reciprocal arrangements within the EU I am unable to understand the reason for the termination of the benefit. She must have some money with which to live, she surely cannot be left with no benefit at all. I would ask you therefore to again consider her case and to try and understand the misery, frustration, depression and distress she has with her illness and to reconsider your decision in order for her to have some semblance of a normal life.

 

I enclose copy correspondence from her doctor confirming Joanne's illness, copy information nletters detailing Joanne's entitlement to Incapacity Benefit dated 19/07/2006 and 18/02/2008 and information when the law changed on 18 October 2007 found on the internet which confirmed that she would still continue to receive her benefit whilst in a EU country and which formed the basis of the decision for her move.  All of which I trust will assist you to look at her case in a more favourable light.

 

Yours faithfully

***** ******* (Ms)

Mother of Joan  

 

May 4th.  Reply to a report sent to previous correspondents.

Evening Brian,

Thanks for your email.  I found it very interesting and, as you requested, I took some time out to offer my feed back for what it is worth.  It should be seen in the manner in which it was sent as I have the utmost admiration for what you are trying to achieve in very difficult circumstances. 
We have been in touch before but just to remind you, I am 64, so get my old age pension next year with any luck.  We have been in (southern France) for about five years living on my job pension that I paid 11% of my pay into for 30 years of police service.  I left the
UK at 59 and was honest from the outset so when I hit 60 a few months later I did not qualify for the heating allowance and have therefore never received it.  Like you I pay tax on my pension in the UK before I get it, like you I am entitled to nothing in the UK or here in France and if we go back to the UK we have to get an EH1C card for emergency treatment in the UK.  We do not exist there other than to raid my pension.  If we went back, (very unlikely!), we would have to apply for re admittance to the NHS and every other Dept. in the land.  We should get my old age pension for which I have paid NICs for since I was 15 years of age but will get no other assistance from the UK.  In short, I am the very person that my countrymen in the UK love to slag off in the papers.

I know, you have heard it all before, I am not alone.  But for us there are no regrets about our move to
France and we want to continue living here.  We love the tranquillity, the friendliness of our lovely neighbours, the lack of interference in our lives and the beauty of France, long may it last.

So, please find attached (attached as a Word  document – not shown here) my thoughts and before you ask, no I do not want to get involved other than perhaps dropping a line to the right people in support, (I need much more time to improve my French!), but I wish you all the very best in what you are trying to achieve.
Very best wishes,

 

BVC reply..  This kind of support is so very welcome.  At my age I have no desire whatsoever to seek material physical help.  No one should feel that they need to do anything, other than give me, if they can, the kind of moral support exhibited by this reader.  That support is essential.  I ADD that I am aware that people who may be able to move things politically probably read this blog.  Your comments  can influence.   The politicians need to know that many people feel as this correspondent does.  The ONLY way to show that is to add your feelings (always anonymously).

 

May 1st.

I have just discovered your blog.

It seems that no-one has addressed my problem, that of being under 65 and having to pay CPAM charges, whilst paying tax in the UK, part of which goes to the NHS.

Last year, when M Sarkozy decided that, having been told to join in 2000, I was told I couldn't continue with the French system. He forgot the rule that we immigrants have most of the rights of a French citizen after 5 years stable life here.

But if he had succeeded? Then I would have been an EU citizen , a taxpayer, who was not entitled to an EH1C from anywhere!!!

I wrote to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, no joy, usual excuses. I even suggested that I should be able to deduct that portion of tax which is paid to the NHS, so that I could pay it to the French Govt, which provides my healthcare.

 

My wife died in 2004, so I'm on my own, increasingly isolated through lack of funds, and I feel bitter that the UK Govt does not consider us expats. I may have to return to the UK soon (but I can't sell my house) don't want to, but if heating oil goes up again, I can't survive for long!

Common Market, European Union? It's not working, there are too many differences between the member states, and they seem to be getting wider.

 

BVC comments -  Another example of the appalling discrimination which comes through the imposition of the Double Taxation Convention on ex-Government employees. This is part of the problem which is inhibiting the freedom of movement within Europe.  WHEN is some authority going to right this wrong?

 

 

April 28th.

J.F. left this comment on the post "From the VAR VILLAGE VOICE _ USE YOUR VOTE!":

You have a bit of a cheek, in my opinion. Why should you have a say in what goes on in the UK when you can't be bothered to live here? OK so you may pay tax, but so what, you spend your Euros boosting the French economy not the UK's. I know you will say that you are British and paid your NI & tax all your working life, so you are entitled to have your 'say', well you had your say when you used your legs and left the country. Some of us, me included would love to stop working and spend my time living in another country, but unfortunately I don't have the luxury of being able to afford it, if I did I would concern myself with what goes on in the country/area I lived in, not the one I left!
As I understand it there are reciprocal agreements between EEC countries for claiming benefits, if they don't suit you then that’s tough, come back and live in the UK if you want our benefits.

REPLY from the Editor Var Village Voice

The right to vote is the basic principle underlying any democracy.   The 400,000 thousand and counting French (Expat) citizens living and working in the UK have the right to vote in their own National Elections, and have Deputes already representing them in the French Senate.

Just recently the UK Government spent a great deal of money making it possible for the thousands of Poles living and working in the UK to vote in their National elections, from the UK, in 21 special polling stations.  However many British citizens have lost their right to vote in the UK, and it becomes increasingly difficult to exercise that right (at the same time they cannot vote in French National Elections).

Yet, and had this critic read information on the subject available on the website and others, he would have seen that despite the theoretical reciprocal agreements now in force in the EU, as outlined in MP Roger Gale’s letters on the subject, he has had to take the Department of Works & Pensions to the European Court of Justice, to try and get these same agreements implemented for UK citizens in the EU.  Meantime this reader can benefit from French health care when he comes here on holiday with no bother at all.

Yes as this reader puts it, I legged it for France, as it was cheaper to live on my pension in this country, I could no longer afford to live in the UK!   By the same token, I do wonder why he is reading an Expat Website.   Obviously yet another one planning to decamp?

regards

Editor:  VAR VILLAGE VOICE

Reply from BVC (Organiser of the site):-

I note the jealously and frustration exhibited in this comment and ask ‘why is there this antipathy among some British citizens in the UK?’   My ‘Englishness’ (if I may use the expression) can be traced through my DNA  for a thousand years.  I am proud to be English.  I as an individual, represent England and Britain daily in my relationships with the French.  I feel responsible and have the need to represent Britain in a good light.  I, like so many others have family in Britain; we may need to return to the ‘bosom’ of our family in our final years.  Every individual has the right to spread their wings - even as I did do that at the age of 67.  Read my biography and you will see I did a fair stint in Britain when I was younger.  I do not reject Britain, but the Government of Britain regrettably devalues the British Citizen who chooses to live in Europe.

The British Government controls the money we receive via state and private pensions and their investments; it controls our movements; it discusses most of the laws we must obey with other European powers.  Yet it does all this without allowing those who are so affected to be represented.  Is not this wrong?

Mr. J. F. may well, when he retires, wish to expand his horizons and move to Europe.  One hopes that the framework of laws then will enable him to do it.  The action of those who have trailed the way may enable him to do so and he may relieve his frustration.  Many on very low incomes have already done so. I know several aged British here who unfortunately NOW are scraping the barrel to survive.  Some, I understand, are calling on local charities for support.  It is partly the policies of the British Government which has engendered this situation.   

Please read ALL the contributions entered under Concern (3) to get a fuller picture.

 
-----------------
April 10th.

 

10 April 2009                                                         Rt. Hon. Oliver Letwin MP

                                                                                House of Commons

                                                                                LONDON  SW1A 0AA

                                                                                l'ANGLETERRE  

 

Dear Mr. Letwin,

 

UK ex-patriots

My wife and I lived in ******** from Jan. 1983 until Jan. 2007 when we sold up to move wholesale to France into a small house (£56,000 in 2006) where the balance of proceeds from ********* was intended to augment our meagre retirement finances, our UK pensions being insufficient to sustain life.  My wife gets only a much reduced pension having not 'worked' for some years whilst raising children.  I know you think this is unjust, and recent changes to the rules have not benefited her. 

 

I understand you are saddled with addressing our grievances for a period of 15 years since our emigration to the Eurozone.  Sorry!  I regret we have several gripes concerning ‘perfidious Albion’ not, after all, solved by our move:-

 

1)       £ -v.- €.  G. Brown who, in 1999 I believe, declared that ‘a country with a weak currency has a weak government’ (or words to that effect) has deliberately engineered a drastic devaluation of the £ Stirling against all other currencies save that of Zimbabwe.  Ostensibly, this was to help exporters, but does he not also have obligations to UK citizens, more than 300,000 of whom have sought greener pastures within the EU?  My wife was already a pensioner, and I recently became one, just in time for the £ to approach parity with the €! UK retirees uniquely, living in the Eurozone, now don’t get enough to live on.  Is it not a European requirement that each nation state provides a minimum level of pension for its’ citizens?  Though we live in France we are still UK citizens.  Ipso facto, when the UK govt. engineers a 30% fall in the value of the £ against the € are they not bound to uphold the value of ex-pats’ pensions at a life-sustaining level in the €-zone?  If not, I contend this is unfair, and that the UK govt. has at least a moral obligation to all its’ citizens including those economic migrants who have been forced to sell up in the UK to generate the means to spend their old age in reasonable comfort.  If this is elsewhere in the EU, so be it.

 

2)       The UK already has the lowest state pensions in Europe, even including the Balkan states, and Slovakia, Slovenia etc.!  Rather than try to stimulate economic activity by buying gilts/bonds with counterfeit money ('QE', which so far hasn't worked) why not take the opportunity to improve the lot of pensioners by giving them the 'funny money', which they would spend?!

 

3)       Since we number more than 300,000, should not UK citizens resident in Europe be represented at ministerial level as the French, Italians and Poles already are?  For that matter, I cannot but see a compelling case for creating at least one notional ex-pat parliamentary constituency, since we number almost twice the number in the average UK constituency.

 

4)       In the UK, I was meant to receive ‘notional’ national insurance stamps from age 60 to 65 but, as I emigrated to Europe before I reached 65 they were stopped, hence my pension was reduced.  Why?

 

5)       Living in France we have to renew our passports at the British Embassy in Paris.  For this, we have to pay extra, presumably as a punishment for deserting.  Also, the British Embassy insists on payment by postal order!  I kid you not.  In the 21st century, when you are as good as dead if you bounce a cheque in France, the British Embassy accepts payment only by postal order!  This is when they have several weeks to clear a cheque before the passport is issued.  Are they playing silly buggers or what?  I had to go to a post office to buy a postal order for 340€ (for 2 passports) plus 5.21€ for the postal order, in order to satisfy the infantile demands of a dysfunctional institution. I  wrote the BE on this matter and enclose copy herewith and their reply.  Note also that the BE will not accept payment in £ Sterling.  Again, why not? - Most ex-pats still have Sterling deposits which are now all but useless for buying euros (I think I just worked out the answer to that one myself!).

 

6)              Something a little different:  Before leaving the UK I had a long £6-figure battle with a law firm, where I contend I was badly treated by them and subsequently by their self-policing union, the Law Society.  In January 2008 I completed all the forms to pursue my gripes against the UK govt. in the ECHR. I received an acknowledgement from them very soon after, but I have since heard nothing!  They did warn that it can take several months for cases to be considered but this is getting a bit ridiculous. Any suggestions?

 

 

 

Yours sincerely,

--------------
 March 29th  This is a comment left on ‘The Letter to Caroline Flint’.  (BVC – I would greatly value more comments on the Blog.  They can be inserted here as a form of Forum.)  
1/. I (we) have no idea as to how many people have written letters to politicians, and no idea of how many replies you have received.  Copies of letters  & replies can be posted here – with names and addresses removed.
2/. Ideas as to courses of further action would be welcomed.
3/. One has no idea as to how many pensioners are adversely affected by the Double Taxation Convention.
4/. If anyone has special knowledge on tax or other areas, your views would be welcome.

Email the Blog at francepensions@orange.fr

 
 Just found this site - after receiving many very negative replies to my enquiry on Total France web asking if anyone would be interested in an Ex-pat pensioner forum. Amazed at the attitudes of some people !! 
--------------
 March 4th.

Just heard about your growing campaign re the silly situation whereby UK civil/government/forces pensions have to be taxed in the UK rather than in France to the disadvantage of most such folk.  We just wanted to say that we wish you all success and though we are not personally affected (but we have friends who are) we are happy to sign up to any petition or whatever.

 

Bon courage.....hope you get a result.

------------
February 24th
 
Dear Brian.
 
Problems here. Trying to sort out the best way to bring money in. Seems that my bank here do not trust U.K. banks anymore and although
they are only taking 10 days for my cheques to be valid they told me they are taking 25days now 'You are lucky' they said.
I only get 360 pounds every four weeks and put in 300 pounds at a time. Used to get 440+ euro; now it's virtually on parity. Yesterday I
 got 366euro – 6 euro commission. January I got 300 euro on my card. That paid the gas bill and electric bill. NOTHING LEFT.
I get so angry with the British Governments attitude. They pay themselves well over the top and won't help us because  “you chose to live
 abroad” The rules and regulations are changed to suit. 
When we came here in 1987 the child allowance was stopped. --!only payable in the U.K. unless you receive benefit from the U.K.!  When my
 husband got his pension they tried to wriggle out of paying but we had it in writing. It took them 2 years to sort it out but we got
 back pay. They lost some of my husband’s contributions and only paid him 82% pension. I wrote and wrote to no avail. 2 years after he
 died they told me they had put over 1000 pounds in my account. They had found additional contributions and that was the amount they had
 under paid him.
I got a widows’ pension. They never informed me that I had to claim old age pension at 60yrs. It was a friend who told me when I was 62
 that they would stop my payments at 65yrs. I phoned about it. To cut a long story short I've lost over 1000 pounds in back pay.
I will support you totally. Approve of the open letter. I mean when I became a widow my son's friend’s mother got double the amount I got
 from the Spanish authorities. They say that Spain is a third world country but at least they pay a sensible amount.
Good luck and keep fighting

 

 
-------
February 18th. From a Law and Financial Consultant – name not given in conformity with my rule.
My attention had already been drawn towards this issue (BVC. note – i.e. Treatment of ex-government pensions under the Double Taxation
 Convention- objective Four)  amongst others that epitomise the lack of uniformity between the different EU countries. You seem to have
 grasped many aspects of the problem and I believe that your comment should be read by more people with an interest in such matters.
 I regularly write articles on “This French Life <http://www.thisfrenchlife.com/> ”, a website that provides many interesting nuggets of
 information and is of service to people who are keen to move to France, or those already living there. I am sure that this topic could
 be published and include links to your blog. (The link above is also published on the main blog.)

---------------

February  16th    This letter is also published as a posting on the site with name given (She is very active publicly in this matter)

DLA, Attendance or Carer’s Allowances -- Pensioners AND OTHERS who have been deprived of their rights by the action of Whitehall!  ACT!

BOMBING Campaign (with letters!)
 
Along with some fellow campaigners, we have decided on an email "bombing campaign" to force the DWP/Exportability Team to sit up and take
 notice. Here is what we would like people to do:
 
"For those who adhered to the Exportability Team's advice that "there is no need to contact us again on this matter", may I suggest that
 this is totally ignored (as we are!) and that all affected parties send an email demanding the reinstatement and back payment of their
 DLA (care component), Carers or Attendance Allowance in accordance with ECJ ruling C-299/05 of 18 October 2007. NOTE: Make sure that you
 put the email for the personal attention of:  Ms Kettle.
 
You can also refer to the reply made to the House of Commons on 2 February, during questions to the Works and Pensions team, by Ms Rosie
 Winterton (to MP Roger Gale's question see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u6dE0uETsI), whereby she stated:
 
"We have been clear that if people claimed the benefit before they moved abroad, they are entitled to continue to claim
 it."
 
This statement has been reiterated in a letter to Roger Gale, a copy of which can be downloaded from: http://www.paysansgrigny.com/dla-campaign.html and attached to your email.
 
The email address (in case you don't have it to hand) is:
EXPORTABILITY.TEAM@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK
 
In addition, copy the same email to the following two address:
 
ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk 
This is the email address for Minister for Pensions, Ms Winterton's office.
 
dcpu.customer-services@dwp.gsi.gov.uk 
This is the email address to make official complaints to in respect to the Exportability Team (and any other DWP department).
 
When you receive the bog standard excuse from the Exportability Team, send a copy of their reply to with a suitable complaint to the customer services address (line above)."

 

---------------

February 11th

Frankly, I think trying to influence politicians by discrete letters (that they can easily 'lose' to save answering) is a waste of time, most of the main UK TV channels have carried some kind of feature about penniless overseas pensioners, keep reminding them, invite them out to France. (I live in Fuengirola, Spain, they had a crew here doing interviews, and commenting on the better climate, etc).

As for the value of the pound, I think we are stuffed for a good few years, when my cash runs out I'll be moving back to the UK, and demanding equal rights, housing and benefits as the East European immigrants, only when we become an embarrassing burden on the government will there be any chance of a rethink.

(BVC – O.K. How does one embarrass the Government?  A Suffragette had to die in front of the king’s horse!  Does one dump manure in the House of Commons?  Climb on its roof?  Write hundreds of letters all at once to Alistair Darling or whoever?  IF ONE DOES NOTHING- NOTHING GETS DONE!   I note that someone in the Houses of Parliament spent 3.5 hours looking at the blog site on February 10th –such is the power of search of the automatic Statistic counter on this blog.  Someone in Paris spent 9 hours on it!)

--------------------

February 10th   From a committed supporter to this blog site.   The article mentioned is loaded under the heading of Objective One.  See also item sent by Roger Gale M.P. under Objective  Two – benefits.

I enclose a copy of an article in the Observer in case you did not see it. Its not good news I am afraid. The British Government, unlike the French Government has a long history of totally ignoring petitions and protests. Look at the protest over Heathrow's third runway for example. They did not even review their decision. So obviously we can petition and protest as much as we ;like but no one on power is going to listen. The only hope is to find some one with more clout to come to our aid, but who???

(BVC reply – The Observer article shows why I have NOT been able to interest the British media in the expatriate cause.  They couldn’t care a toss! 

Roger Gale is taking an interest – BUT we need so much more political clout – We as a group have our own selves to blame- We need political power and very few will take action.

IF ONE DOES NOTHING- NOTHING WILL BE DONE!)

--------------------------------

February 6th.

Sent to the Guardian Newspaper by a Blog reader.

 

Dear Editor

As Europe heads to new Elections in June, and Britain ,though in the Community, takes measures it thinks fit to bolster the Bankrupt , and corrupt, Financial Services sector, in letting the £ float in free fall, the Eurozone Southern Irish are making whoopee, by driving across the Border, to UK Northern Ireland  

The G.B Pound is now worth 40% less in Euros  than a year ago, and poses problems to those of us who worked decades  earning  our Sterling Pensions in the UK.., some actually making things that were tangible.  

 

More importantly looking forward, in the light of recent events, originating  largely from the USA and UK  by  reckless business and private borrowing, which is  now being done by the State, using future tax payers money, do we need to consider and rethink the following?

 

1. Should Europe insist that only Nations who join the Euro monetary system be allowed to remain or join?  There is otherwise surely a conflict of interest in the Socio/Economic development of the whole community.' versus individual member states.  

2. Those Euro member  nations who have to decide for or against the new EEC proposals (Lisbon Treaty), and do so by referendum, should first make it part of the constitutional law that all citizens must vote in a referendum.

3. As for the proposed full time, non rotating European President; ex Presidents or Prime Ministers of member countries , that were not in the common currency , they should be barred. Blair for example, with Brown, presided over their version of Thatcherism for the last 10 years, and live by narrow, insular  political ideologies , which have exploded in their faces ; yet they have not the decency to admit it.

 

Sarkozy , when European president, said the guilty who had caused the financial crisis would be punished !  A few have been stood down or retired with golden parachutes. The Deutche post Chairman , after prosecution, has been given a two year suspended sentence , and a fine , equivalent to the tax  he evaded . That is the virtual world for them, and their huge personal wealth which maintains them in great  tangible and material comfort. Yet they have now destroyed the real world of thousands of those who trusted them , or were given no choice to do  the  work

As a Factory manager, in the Industrial UK in the late 80's, had a leak caused flammable or toxic gas to hurt an employee or the neighbouring population, I faced jail.

Is the euphemistic toxic asset, any less deadly or painful to someone who now has lost their savings, or the value of their Sterling pension, and above all their livelihood  

 ( BVC  - This letter from the heart is saying two things – firstly – What is Britain’s relationship to Europe?  How can Britain be considered part of  the European Economic System with such a floating chaos of the £ versus the €?  - secondly –  Those responsible for the economic chaos should suffer.)

-------------------------------

February 1st.   Letter from a UK resident exhibiting a viewpoint from the ‘mainland’.

Dear Mr Cave,

 

My husband and I are pensioners who moved to Spain in 2003.  We had the good sense to move back to the UK in 2006.

 

This continued crying by pensioners etc in France and Spain that they should somehow be recompensed by the British Government for the fall in the exchange rate makes our blood boil.  They seem to think that the British Government should somehow up their pensions by another 30% to enable them to keep up their lifestyle.  They left Britain because they thought  they would get a better quality of life in abroad than the average British pensioner who stayed in the UK.  They have done so for a few years but now they have the same  buying power as those who stayed behind. 

 

The majority of pensioners manage to live here on their pensions (us included).  Why should these people get more pension or help than the average British pensioner who lives in this country and spends their money here thus helping the British economy instead of that of Spain or France? 

 

They chose to live in these places and turned their backs on Britain and the cry was 'it's cheaper and we get the sun' .  When we said we were moving back we were laughed at and were told it was going to be dearer to live in the UK.  Well who is laughing now?  They must learn to take the rough with the smooth moving abroad has always been a gamble

 

Had we still been in Spain we would have taken the attitude that we had made our bed and must lie in it -there is too much 'blame culture' these days. 

 

MY REPLY  ------------------- 

 Dear Mrs *******,
I have not read the Costa Blanca News.  If there is anything in it which represents a different view to that below, I am not responsible!

I am aware that some foolish and unthinking people in Spain have taken the line  you describe  (we want compensation!). I do not  take this line and I  consider it  an ignorant  point of view.

There are many  various reasons why people have moved abroad in their retirement.  Many in Spain have gone for the reasons you outline.  It is not universally true elsewhere.

However the argument which my blog site promotes, essentially takes on board these facts:-
a/   The World is a smaller place with easy communications now compared to the 1930s. - Retired people move abroad today as their fore-parents then moved to Bognor or Torquay.
b/  Britain has joined the European Union.  'Freedom of movement' within the Union is a fundamental principle of the treaties of the Union.
c/. Only Britain and Sweden stand outside the Euro - (Denmark's Kroner is linked to the Euro - The recent bloc countries wish to join.)
d/. Britain is out of step with nearly all other European countries in giving inadequate political representation to the European expatriate. I fear that most expatriates do not realise what an important 'right' this should be.
e/. Britain's Government only grudgingly recognises the rights of the European expatriate and its duty towards them as British Citizens.
f/.  People who moved to Europe for their health and had receipt of certain benefits before they left, are refused these, even if they moved only a few miles to Normandy .  The notion of 'freedom of movement' within Europe is denied them financially.  The EU Commission recognises this right.  The British Government appallingly drags its feet .
f/.  In France the French Government imposes an unfair discrimination on the expatriate who is receipt of a 'government' pension - i.e. teachers, firemen, military staff etc.  This needs a review of the Double Taxation Treaty.

I absolutely agree that the notion of subsidising  the expatriate because of the falling £  is ludicrous, bizarre and ignorant. I have not suggested it.  Some ill educated Spanish expatriate might. 
I do not support that stupid viewpoint.
So please let your blood pressure subside.
My own view is that I believe the £ will rise in value again but maybe not to the previous level. 
I also believe that eventually - maybe in ten years or so - either the £ is subsumed in the Euro or Britain moves away from any further involvement with the European Union, or the European Union cracks up.
This current monetary chaos is an opportunity to give airing to all these issues. That is what I have done. Yet one must understand that a fall of 25% in the value of the £ so suddenly is probably beyond any  experience in its history.  It would seem to suggest some severe misunderstanding in Whitehall of economics.
I will publish your letter anonymously and my reply.  I hope it will generate more comment.
I have no doubt that such a viewpoint as you put forward is too common in some sections of the British outlook and is displayed by too many British MPs and some British media.  They must be shown the true picture.

Brian Cave

---------------------------------

February 1st

I do wonder if 30,000 > 20,000 euros is to high a figure for pensioners. Mind you I am only taking our income into account and some  people we know are only on State Pensions. Our combined State and Private pensions do not at the moment even make 17,000 euros.

But there are others whom we know have State and seemingly high Private/Government pensions so 30,000 euros might be about right. Then again some people like to make out they have more.

Also I finish with Orange Internet on the 15th March, cutting back on our spending. The GBP at present is making ground but will it last?

-------------------------------

28 January              The  Var Village Voice Newspaper runs the story on  the Benefits scandal.

www.varvillagevoice.com

------------------------

 

28 January  From a lady in Southern Spain

I was interested in your letter and have perused the web pages quoted but have been disillusioned.
I've had many tussles with the DWP and on numerous occasions have wrote to members of parliament, Prime ministers and opposition party members.
I have found that all I get is referred to the minister of pensions who then refer me to the DWP who refer me to government policy.e.g
my husband died in April 1997 and as it was a Saturday,  when I got paid a widows pension 3 months later, I was deducted from his last pension payment and ended up losing 3 days money.
In April 2004 I reached the age of 60yrs. I heard nothing from DWP. A friend had ,when she reached that age,been told to stay on widows pension as she would get less on oap.
In 2006. I learnt from my friend that at 60 you were supposed to apply for oap.  If you didn't. at 65 your widows would automatically stop. No Notice. I phoned and found this was true. They sent the paperwork and I applied. They paid me from May 2006. I lost 2yrs because they say IT IS GOVERMENT POLICY they can only back pay 1year. I appealed because they claimed I would have been notified by them to apply for oap. I hadn't received this letter although every other letter was received during this time.
I was told It was down to me. I should have applied.
For years I tried to get my husbands pension money upped. No go.
2years after his death they ' found credits that hadn't been taken into account' and I got back payment on his pension for 7 years.
All I really want is to get this winter fuel allowance. I'm told that as we left U.K in 1987 I have no chance of claiming. I would have to go back to the U:K and claim it there and then come back here and I would get it here.
With regard to the exchange rate, Brown has blown  it with regard to his borrowing. There is nothing we can do about this. I get really angry when I read in the Costa Blanca News  the poor people who can only go out for one meal a week also all the figures of living on 800 or 1,000pounds a month. Where do these amounts come from?
I get 360pounds every four weeks. I put 300pound cheque in. When I got 440plus it was liveable now I just don't know what to do. I have just paid my total pension money on my gas and electric bill.

(BVC -  This letter says so much – The lack of interest  by the UK Government; the lack of a political voice.)

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24. January 22nd   Dear Brian,

I am taking the liberty of sending you the text of an e-mail that I have submitted to the Euroweekly News here in Spain, and which might form the basis of a letter for expatriates interested in putting pressure on their MPs, UK Ministers, etc. (signature ……….)

 

 It is fully understood that the U.K. Winter Fuel Payment is granted to British citizens resident in U.K. who reached the age of 60 on, or after, September 1998, and is an annual payment thereafter. What is more, if those citizens decided to up-sticks and take up residency in the EEC, they are still entitled to receive that payment annually. Good luck to them.  What is not generally acknowledged is that UK citizens who took up residency in the EEC before 1998, but subsequently reached 60 before or during the qualifying period, are not entitled to claim. One can sometimes expect that those expatriates who retired on pensions before 1998 are living off a lower level of income since their funds have had to sustain them over a greater period of time, and where some are often suffering great financial hardship in these difficult times. What started off as a single persons payment of £20 is now £125 (£250 for a shared payment) which would go a long way to provide gas for heating and hot water, and /or assist in payment of electricity or solid fuel charges, and is not to be sneezed at (sorry for the pun!).It has to be hoped that, one day, there might be someone with sufficient authority within Government who can recognize this anomaly, and will ensure that all expatriates, duly and fairly, are in receipt of this once-a-year payment. These extra payments are hardly going to put any strain on the UK Government’s bail-out plans.  

 (BVC – I would clarify that there is also the situation –implied above- where someone  retired before 1998 and was aged then more than 65 and therefore does not receive the WFP. I like so many other expatriates must know of some very elderly compatriot in this situation.  For their sake, let us write as the author here suggests.)

Minister for Works and Pensions Rt.Hon James Purnell, House of Commons London SW1A 0AA or Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA

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23.    January  22nd.  By chance, my renewal form for UK voting rights arrived. I have been here a few months more than the 15 years so I expect to be disenfranchised. Any advice?  (BVC  - Look at Objective 3 blog site. Advice:- Write, complain, you are a British Citizen!)

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22. Hello,

Firstly, thanks for starting this website, it appears to hit the right nail on the head.  Also, I think the anonymity aspect will encourage people (like me) to add their voices.

My wife and I came to France five years ago as financial expats, because the cost of living in our home country (UK) was unsustainable.  At that time I was on long-term incapacity benefit (a scrounger according to those who do not understand), this ceased on my 65th birthday.  Additionally, my wife suffers with asthma and high blood pressure and the aim was to enable her to have a more stress-free life and to benefit from a better, dryer, climate.  Although these long-term health problems will continue our E121s now state that we are not “invalids” but  pensioners and therefore, under French rules, no longer entitled to such benefits as were applied prior to my 65th birthday.  This is ludicrous as had it been the case that I only had one leg and so be entitled to invalidity status in France this would cease on a new E121 being issued as a pensioner – yet as far as I know even stem cell treatment would not make a new leg!

We are two people who will be relying on the basic state pension (currently £147 per week as assessed by Newcastle) and the exchange rate means that such savings as we have will rapidly disappear.  On reading your article we first thought that it could be a partial answer to our problems by applying for ASPA.  However, on reading further we were more than a little dismayed to find that applications must go through the commune ‘mairie’.  Like many others we would have hoped to keep our financial affairs private, only divulging details to anonymous civil servants far away from our small village.  Our neighbour is the mayor’s secretary (and a gossip), our Mayor shows little or no empathy to outsiders and is openly hostile not only to those of foreign nationality, but also to other communes (we are VERY rural) and so would be pleased to find out if it is a “must” for our application to be routed through a ‘leaky’ town hall.

Do the French take even modest savings into account (as per the UK) when deciding on any allowances or is the decision based solely upon monthly income?  Is anyone able to let us know if there are any organisations and/or businesses that can assist in making a claim as I am ashamed to say that our French is passable, but not technically adequate for such a task.

Many thanks

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21.  A long letter of three pages posted on the blog –site January 20th 2009 to the Prime Minister, Chancellor,  and a local MP.  It contains much interesting material.  Refer to the main blog site.   The author feels that it may contain material useful to other letter writers.

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20.  From  a  Frenchman January  19th.  I am a 40 Yrs old french and I am happy to hear that its getting more difficult for english people to
come and buy our land in the countryside.   Indeed I know some of my friends who are "only" labours and they don't earn enough to even buy the country house
of their parents coming down from their grand parents and sometimes down from few ancestor generations.
Older english buyers with high buying power have come to retire in France countryside with their money gained from the mad and  fast UK economy coming down from that capitalist rat race that probably Mrs Thatcher boosted.
As a result of this, prices have raised tremendously in our countryside swallowing french people in that stupid and unhealthy speculation whirlpool. Some villages are purely english speaking communities and they don't even make an effort to speak proper french.
Now English people can leave but its already too late for the prices - I myself can still not get the country house that I dream of ( it would have been possible few years ago )
England doesn't look like england anymore as we french learned it from the books at school while learning english.  Today all little shops are ran by pakistanies and so on, the countryside used to be unique and peaceful too , now its all about unsecurity and agressions- you guys have allowed too many immigrants floading in your land and forgot to say "no"- so please take your responsibilities and stop escaping to France - you might end up spoiling it as well!

Reply.

Merci pour votre intérêt à notre blog : Evidemment ce n’est pas la première fois que j’entends l’accusation qu’on fait hausser le prix des immeubles.  En réponse je dirais ;-

Beaucoup de Britanniques ont acheté de vieilles pierres, souvent en ruines, qu’un français n’achèterait pas.  Dans notre cas, nous avons tout vendu au Royaume Uni pour acheter notre propriété, dont une partie était restée inhabitée depuis 13 ans.  Nous avons utilisé des entreprises françaises, au coût de plus de 300,000 euros. Les 35,000 retraités Britanniques en France dépensent plus de €500 million par an.  Le Gouvernement britannique verse plus de €70 million par an pour soutenir le coût de leur sécurité sociale.  En plus, nos taxes affluent dans l’économie  française.  A présent il y a plus de 200,000 français vivant au le sud est d’Angleterre.  Ce sont pour la plupart des jeunes qui veulent profiter des conditions plus propices au travail.

Enfin nous sommes là parce que nous aimons la France – l’espace, la culture, le calme – choses qui – comme vous le dites, ont disparu du Royaume Uni. En plus nous déplorons, là où ils se trouvent, les endroits ou les immigrants britanniques se groupent.  Nous par contre, tenons à soutenir les institutions françaises- soit culturelles soit de bienfaisance.

In English :

1.  Many British have purchased ruins, which no French person would consider buying.  In our own case we sold everything in the UK, purchased our property, part had been empty and uninhabitable for 13 years. We spent over 300,000 euros, paid to local artisans.  The 35,000 British pensioners in France spend well over €500 million a year in France.  The British Government pays over €70 million a year to support their health care.

There are over 200,000 French people living in S.E England.  They are mostly young people trying to benefit from the easier working conditions there.

Our taxes flow into the French economy.

2.  Mostly we  love France.  We seek to find the space and the quiet culture which, indeed has largely  disappeared from Britain. 

3. We also deplore, where it occurs the places where British immigrants  gather and ourselves support French institutions and charities.

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19.  From a Frenchman  19th January.

Bonjour Mr CAVE,

Je viens de vous voir à la télévision ce soir

Je suis anglophile et très intéressé par le monde britannique.

J'ai été passionné  par vos propos ce soir et suis allé tout de suite voir votre blog

Merci d'aimer la France et bon courage pour votre action

Je suis moi même proche de la retraite et je vais suivre avec beaucoup d'intérêt  votre blog à partir de ce soir

Peut-être à un de ces jours dans votre belle demeure

God save the brithish pensioners in France !

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18.  From Spain.    January 18/19th. I also have the budget speech by Gordon Brown (Hansard) archived and where he declared that withdrawing the child allowances in respect of income tax and paying everyone with children child tax credit, was merely another way of paying ones entitlement and so as to embrace more people, non-tax payers etc.,  What a devious lying bastard, since all tax payers (double taxation) who resided outside the UK were then immediately disenfranchised. People like myself only received this benefit since we were already in receipt of another benefit and where Community rules were triggered. However, HMRC are now saying that they are not so triggered, and that they had misunderstood Community law following the introduction of this credit 6 years.

 

I have two children at school, ages 15 and 17 years and the additional expense to me as a pensioner is very noticeable. As a State 'old age' pensioner and UK income tax payer, my loss is currently £79 - 04 a month, merely for exercising my right of free movement. Yet another penalty imposed upon British expats, even though, in a great many cases, they remain liable to UK income tax as I do. 

 

Our government is intent upon paring us expats to the bone. You may quote me, "Gordon Brown is a devious liar".

(BVC – I haven’t given the writer’s name, though he insists I should.  I wish to respect a general anonymity to encourage anyone to write in.)

 

17.               January 19th.

Congratulations on setting up your Blog

1. Stability of Pound Sterling - my guess is that, at this point in time, the Governor of the Bank of England, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister are all rather concerned by rising unemployment, growing recession and unacceptable levels of debt for a population of around 60,000,000. They are also happy with the competitive position that a poor currency provides. I doubt whether they are really concerned by the financial problems of 300,000 people who chose to become expatriates and who have no voting strength. Sending individual letters of complaint with no constructive input will merely annoy them and make it more difficult to get help in the future.

(BVC -- Of course they do not care a tinker's cuss about the 300,000 expat pensioners   If they imagine that we have no problems they will just go on happily ignoring us.  We are also British citizens.  Is the expat less deserving?  And they still tax many of us!)

2i. I believe that you can open UK bank accounts, savings accounts etc but the security is the same or worse than in France. Where UK saving schemes are paid gross = net - ie no tax liability, I believe that these are available in France. Other saving schemes involving tax benefits have their equivalent schemes in France. It would be interesting to see a comparison of such schemes.

(BVC- I am informed that some banks will not open an on-shore account if one does not have a UK address.  You can of course (as I do) retain an account once opened, and one can open off-shore accounts easily.  I believe this regulation of any such bank is not related to any Government regulation.  I have a feeling (only) that there is some EU restriction on banks operating across borders.  My internet link to my bank in the UK expressly says that the internet link should solely be used by UK residents.  I use it however.  I intend to ask my bank to tell me in B&W what their policy is and if it is as I believe, then why.---Reply from my Bank Jan 22…  They will NOT open any account for anyone without a UK address.  If you  have an account before leaving the UK then it can be retained. The regulation is of their own making to avoid monetary fraud.  They believe it to be a commonplace rule. )

2ii I agree that expat pensioners should receive the same (non taxable) benefits as those in equivalent situations in UK. I would further emphasise that such benefits must be available to all pensioners irrespective of when they left UK or whether they happened to be in UK on an arbitrary qualifying date.

(BVC. In this you seem to be agreeing that the continental EU should be considered as an acceptable place to which to retire.

3. A UK MP is responsible to his local electorate and his local political party. One of the problems of the EU parliament is that the EMPs are so remote that they are only responsible to themselves and their UK political parties. If there was an “Expat MP” he would happily take the income and an enormous expense account as he holidayed in each of his sub constituencies around Europe. I would assume that he would be independent politically and therefore have virtually no power within parliament.

(BVC.  A false assumption.  Both Conservative and Labour (Liberal ?) European Groups support my notion and they have produced a 'Paris Declaration'  on this – SEE LINK on this blog. Now added!)

 
It would be interesting to hear / see how the systems in most other European States work.

(BVC. I have analysed the situation in the European States.  You will find a link to the broad outline of the situation on the blog.  Only Ireland and Denmark   have the same situation as the UK. All others have some form of representation.  The expatriate French elect 12 senators to an expatriate Assembly.)

 
4. I am not a British Government ex-employee and therefore know little of their problems of double taxation. I thought that there were benefits of not being taxed in France. I understand that such pensioners declare their French taxable income in France (which will probably be below the taxable limit) and therefore receive numerous French benefits for low income pensioners such as free taxe foncier, taxe d’habitation etc.

(BVC.  You are mistaken in this. One is disadvantaged.  I have analysed the situation on a blog link. Please read)

(BVC.  Letters like this one are welcomed – they make one think again, but for the most part, one’s views remain solid. )

 

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16.   A letter from Spain          January 17th.

 Yet again our government throws expats to the wall, since we don't matter to them. After all who is to complain on our behalf.  

 Yes, I am affected, as are a lot of others and yet the UK government still wants my income tax!

 The latest: -

 UK government has withdrawn 'Child Tax Credits' w/e 30 December 2008 from all expats, hitherto entitled to receive them where they have children to bring up and where they are in receipt of a social security benefit, such as 'old age' pension, or some sickness related benefit. 

 We were right when addressing the matter of the DLA, CA and AA our government were up to something when delaying/failing to acknowledge the ruling of the ECJ of 18 October 2007. When will Brown et al stop lying to us all.

 This is especially going to hit those such as our terminally ill cancer patient [the writer refers to a certain resident in Spain], who came here with his children to get treatment, not then available to him in the UK, and whose only income now is his sickness benefit and family allowance. The UK government had already stripped him of his DLA. now they have removed his Child Tax Credit. Yet another British citizen who will shortly be seeking the assistance of our consular services in respect of repatriation. 

 Feel proud of being British? I no longer do and now wonder why I spent all my working life in the service of the Crown, whereas perhaps I should have been looking more to myself and my family.

 Note our politicians have most recently secured their pensions!!!!!!!!

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15.

Hi Brian             January 16th
My wife and I have read your article in The Connexion. Luckily we still 'have our heads above water', only because when we moved here April 2007 property was cheap, the exchange rate was OK and after the sale of our UK property we have a good financial buffer.
But, if the rate was to go to parity our money would gradually go.
December 2008 I wrote to Gordon Brown explaining the plight of the Brits in the Eurozone and also the rumour that the winter fuel allowance may be stopped. No reply as yet.
One point that I made clear was, there is no hope of selling property in France and Spain at present. So if the Brits are made financially 'broke' they would have to return to the UK homeless (in their thousands) and with no money. That would cost the UK taxpayer (they would pick up the bill) than looking after them in their own homes abroad.
Yes, we are the forgotten and treated like rats from a sinking ship.

(BVC – No doubt the reply will stupidly repeat the law and regulations back to you.   BUT IF ONLY hundreds of people would write to the PM or Chancellor in a similar way  then they may take note.  APATHY – attitude of ‘leave it others’ is a curse.)

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14. Dear Brian,   13 January.

Was the help for euro-hit pensioners an hypothetical article?

I have the last week trying to get sense from the various department noted in claims for ASPA and the local mairie without any success.

I would be very interested in your comment and any help you may be able to give,

(BVC – A LINK above to the ASPA forms is given!)

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13.  Just found this for the first time, having read about it in the Sud Ouest today (Sunday) in with the article about Brits leaving (?) the Dordogne. 

 

I have to say I read the Sud Ouest in my local bar with my coffee - and sadly the French in there were cheering at this inch high headline !  I was obliged to hit the nearest one on the head with the newspaper !  I suggested to them they read the article - detailing how much we put into the French economy in one way or another.

 

I was interested to read the postings and in particular those suggesting a petition to the UK government   - there has been some correspondence in the UK press about the fact that it is not fair that ex pats receive the heating allowance (I don't - my husband does, as he lived in the UK for that ONE crucial qualifying week when he was still working there before retirement !  I shall never receive it, or the cold weather payments (and it has been -10 here most nights this week !) or the pension credits, etc etc etc ...although I would never want to return to the UK if I can help it !

 

What also angers me is that here in France, there is little or no assistance to ex pats from another country (seen the Connexion article, but I bet it's a nightmare applying ! - fortunately so far (well this week, anyway !) we don't need to - we have 48 euros in the bank till pension day (end of next week !) having paid the electricity bill this month as well as buying gas bottles for the conservatory heating !  It is of course quite right that ex pats receive no help from their country of habitation (in this case France) but grossly unfair when our working lives in the UK have contributed to payment of benefits etc to thousands of incomers who have never done a day's work or contributed one penny to the taxes of the UK - but are living on our taxes, and those of our children - this is wrong !  Here we have to pay 'social charges' if our income is above a certain limit, pensioners included - for people who cannot (or will not !) work - apart from all that we have already paid to keep these people in the UK !  France has the right idea in helping it's nationals first above all others - it's a pity the UK does not share this concept !  We found the same in Spain when we lived there for five years - don't know why we moved to France - weather was better, no mutuelle top up to pay for (that costs us 150 euros a month !) - we did not live on the mainland, but one of the Balearic Islands !  Wish we had not moved - trouble was, tourist influx, decision to make our tiny port village a 'tourist destination' and constant building, despite successions of local councillors telling us there would be no more !  Just like the UK really !!

12 January 2009

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12.  TAXATION OF EX-GOVERNMENT EXPLOYEEES.   
Hi Brian,

You are so right. I receive a small widows pension of approx 500 pounds a month, and also work here for myself. 2007 I made 11,000 euros
 profit and although my pension is taxed in the UK, it was taken into account as my global income, this pushed me over the threshold for a
 single person and I had to pay 1400 euros tax to the French authorities. It's also meant that I've had to pay Taxe d'habitation which I'd
 been exempt from in the previous year. I can't win.

Best of luck with the campaign.  11 January.

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11. 

Hello, my husband and I are in exactly the same position as the lady who wrote giving her situation. We are finding it very hard to manage on the single pension we receive which is getting less and less each month. Our income has decreased by over 200€ per month since January 2007. Neither of us are in the best of health at the moment and feel we can't fight for our rights with the enthusiasm we would have had a few years ago.
We would be very interested to know if we are eligible to apply for assistance. We are sure there are hundreds of people who are also in the same position as us.
One thing we are not quite sure of after reading the article in the January edition of 'The Connexion' is who to apply to - do we contact our Mairie or, as we have never worked in France, do we contact the Bordeaux-based body the Caisse des Depots.
Any guidance would be much appreciated.

January 9, 2009

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10.  I have been endeavouring to unravel an anomaly which exists in the payment of the U.K.winter fuel payment. I fully understand that this was granted to persons resident in UK who reached the age of 60 on or after 1997, and is an annual payment.

My wife and I, like many of our British residents here in EU, were denied the granting of this payment since we left UK to live, firstly in France, and now in Spain before that date, having reached 60 after having vacated UK.

Now there are many UK residents who think that the climate in EU does not warrant extra help in purchasing fuel for warmth and hot water. I have just purchased one months supply of gas which costs me Eur 208 (approx £185) paid for out of my state pension.

Why, therefore, does the UK government still continue to make this annual payment to those ex-patriots resident in EU who, by accident of birth or stroke of good fortune, were granted this allowance by virtue of being resident in UK when they reached 60, but have over the past ten years, become resident in EU. Those, like us, who became resident in EU before 1997 are, most likely, living off a lower level of income since our funds have had to sustain us over a greater period of time.

Then, again, there are UK residents who have the good fortune to own property in both UK and EU, who are able to escape the UK winter and use the allowance to sustain them when they are abroad. Likewise for the 'snowbirds' who migrate here for three months in the winter.

It is hoped that, one day, there might be someone in authority in the UK government, who can see a way to resolve this anomoly, in the hope that all the ex-patriot British may be able to claim this 'once a year' allowance.

If you start a campaign, my wife and I would be the first to add our names to

any petition.

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 9.  I have read your blog and totally agree with everything you say

it would appear that once you have left the UK having paid all of your taxes etc you are no longer entitled to any of the benefits that you would receive if  you still resided in the UK,

I believe after today's interest rate cut it is now time for a pensioners action group, I and my wife are sick to death of the treatment we receive from the British Government,

We retired here in 1994 having been in business in the UK since 1964 and employing many people and going through a number of boom and bust situations and never once giving up,

However it would appear that the present business community

are only interested in cheap money and how they can obtain it,

I did email the B O England in December and received a very poor reply I am in the process of writing another letter to the Governor and will inform you of there reply,

I have no confidence in the B O E or the Government and would like to see a Pensioners action group,

Is that something that you would to like to see?

(Comment from BVC - what about the idea expressed here? – your views?)

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8.   Extracts from a blog reader of a letter from him published in The Connexion

The British press and media establishment reduces everything to finacial gain,and presumes that self interest is the sole motivation in life. . Many like us, gave our active working lives of some 35 to 40 years to British Society, often working increasing long hours of up to 60to 80 per week , paying all our tax and national insurance dues while suffering with increasing dismay the social destruction of Great Britain and its Industrial base under Thatcherism and what followed and still continues to be the driving force : so called free market economics .This dogma of  privatisation of social services, and unfettered capitalism, with its debt based consumerism, remains addicted to avidity and ostentation .The stock market will recover now big business and banks know they are always to be bailed out and all the lessons of the recent crises will be forgotten , so over-consumption will return, and  the environmental pollution crisis runs unchecked, and  is put on the back burner.as an issue. . .

 

 In deciding to live within the French community and its traditions of solidarity and social care,with little ostentation hereabouts,we have already  made financial and family sacrifices , and now see our pensions, earned in Britian, 40 % less in euro value than 5 years ago..  However we so  value the richness of the caring culture here, that we will accept the tightenng of belts necessary , to continue to support and share the culture and attitudes we so enjoy, despite being fiancially poorer. 

 

June next year will bring the European Elections. We all pay for the  MEP's cost  by our taxes , paid in France or the Uk, who  increasingly wield power over our daily lives. So that we are all encouraged to understand who they are, to whom they are accountable , and how we can choose and influence their decisions , may we suggest Connexion does a comprehensive guide and feature on this, and publicise the need for all of us to both be informed, and influence by voting in June. Though registration had to be made by the end of 2008, we have noted a marked lack of interest and information to help those who have registered.

(Comment from Brian Cave  (BVC) – I have asked the European  Commission  to send a list of French MEPs.  We all have the chance of a vote for them.  Ask about it at your Mairie.)

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7. As we are still UK citizens (though living in France) does not the UK govt. have a legal obligation to look after its' citizens in old age, even when they live elsewhere in the union?  Has anybody checked this out, perhaps with a lawyer in Euro law?

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6.
When we decided to come to France in the mid-nineties, it was done so that we could release all our assets (tied up in our house), buy a much cheaper property here, work hard to bring it up to liveable standard, and have a bit of money in the bank for our older age.  So far, we have managed quite happily in France on our modest pensions and, even now, when finances are down to the bone, we are very content to be here and have decided to make the decreased income a challenge.  Good for the soul, I tell myself!  However, it is the discrimination, particularly in relation to the Winter Fuel Allowance, Pension Credits and the voting disenfranchisement after fifteen years, that really bugs me.  We have no family so have to be totally dependent on each other.   We know we would be far worse off in the U.K. and, in fact, there is no way, even if we wanted to (which we definitely do not!) that we could return there.

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5. 
 When we moved out here, we did appoint a Proxy to vote for us but this, unfortunately, fell apart in due course and so we now no longer have a vote.  I downloaded the voting form from the details given on your site and found another irritating situation.  We would need to vote by post and, in the notes, it says "By post:  If you want your ballot paper sent to you, you should be aware that it may not be sent out until 4 working days before election day.  You need to consider whether there is enough time to receive your ballot paper, mark your vote and return it before voting closes on election day.  Ballot papers that arrive after this time will not be counted.".  Obviously, there is absolutely no way that four days is long enough for them to send the paper to us here in S.W. France and for us to get it back to the far West of Cornwall!  This effectively makes it impossible for expats to vote by post

-------------------------------
 4.  Thank you so much for spearheading the fight to do something about the truly awful situation for expat pensioners resident in France.  We are now respectively 73 and 74 this year and have lived permanently in France for 13 years.  We have not even visited the U.K. for 12 years!  Whilst we are in the same boat as everyone else with regard to the exchange rate, our special anger is concerning the Winter Fuel Allowance.  I was aged 61 when we moved to France in 1996 (my husband is a year younger), but do not qualify for the Winter Fuel Allowance because it did not start until the following year.  For the first few years after it began, no expat pensioner could receive the fuel allowance here even if they had done so before leaving the U.K.  Then, thanks to the good offices of the British Expats Association (Spain), those newer arrivals got it paid and we know of several who got it backdated a few years.  Very nice and we are pleased for them, but what about us?  By definition, those who have been here the longest are invariably the oldest and, like us, sold their houses in the U.K. at modest prices (we got £52,000 for ours in 1997!).  I am not an envious person by nature but, when I think about many of our friends and acquaintances, all of whom are younger than us (some by as much as 12 years younger), many of whom have told us that they have larger pensions and greater capital resources than ourselves, getting this allowance when we are not, I confess to feeling quite bitter and twisted! How does the British government get away with this, some say unlawful, discrimination?
 
As suggested, I am starting today by writing to the M.P. in the constituency in which we lived and shall eagerly await a reply.  To be honest, I shall be extremely surprised if it produces anything positive but one has to start somewhere.  Do you think there is any merit in organising a petition to present to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions?  I am not sure that individual letters, filtering through the system, would have as much impact.  I have to be honest and say that I personally would not know how to organise such a thing and I am not very au fait with the workings of the computer.  Sending/receiving e-mails and surfing the Internet is about as far as I can get!  However, I am more than happy to do whatever I can to help anyone who would be prepared to organise this.  I am a trained touch-typist and so well able to pound away on the keyboard anytime!
 
By contrast with the British government, who have demonstrated blatantly that they have no interest whatsoever in their expat pensioners, the French government are kind to us.  We have a very modest total income (around 15,000 euros gross in 2008) and, therefore, qualify in France for exoneration from Habitation Tax and TV licence and receive a 100-euro reduction on our Taxe Fonciere.  The leading article on the front page of this month's "Connexion" is helpful as we did not know about the "allocation de solidarite aux personnes agees (aspa)".  We will certainly be enquiring about this at our Mairie.  However, this makes it all the more shameful that the government to whom we have paid our dues all our working lives cares nothing for us.  I wonder how much we would be costing them now, at our age, if we were still living in the U.K.?  By choosing to live in France, we are not putting any strain on their services, i.e. hospitals, social services, retirement homes, etc. etc.  All they have to do is pay to the French government just over (I believe) £2,000 a year for every British expat pensioner with a Form E121.  Obviously, this leaves a considerable shortfall for the French government to subsidise. 
 
As you say, we all came to France to enjoy our retirement and why not?  We're all Europeans, aren't we?
 
Very warmest thanks, once again, for what you are doing.  Bon courage !!

 -------------------------------

3.  I am not a 'letter writer' but the whole UK attitude to Europe needs to evolve, the centuries of war are over, mainland Europe is no longer a refuge for spies, exiles and traitors, which is what they think we are.  The Brits in the UK speak of Europe as the Americans do, as somewhere else.  I could rant on but won't bore you, I too was a teacher.

----------------------

2.  Well done you - good site.

However should we not be pretty embarrassed as a country - one of the richest on earth - to have one of the lowest state pensions in Europe?

-----------------------------------------

1.         A Blog Reader sent this letter to the Works and Pensions Committee relating to an item on the Politics Show

To: Work&Pensions Committee
Subject: The Politics Show

With reference to Terry Rooney's comments on The Politics Show I should like to point out that the UK subjects living in France are not all millionaires.  I came here to work in 1976 for 3 years, went back to the UK until my parents died and came here in 1990 to work (partly in protest about the Poll Tax)  I retired at 65 and am now 67.  I am already disenfranchised as I have no vote in the parliamentary elections either here or in the UK and while many fellow Brits here who are far better off than me get their heating allowance, I do not.  I find neither of these issues acceptable in a democracy and the injustice is compounded by the enormous drop in our pensions caused by the weakness of sterling. 

 

The reply received from the Work and Pensions Committee was essentially.

Thank you for your comments. The Committee agreed at its first meeting after being appointed in July 2005 that it would not undertake investigations into individual cases and is therefore not able to examine further the points that you raise. I will ensure that your letter is circulated to all Members of the Committee.

--------------------------------------



 

 

8pt 91.6pt 137.4pt 183.2pt 229.0pt 274.8pt 320.6pt 366.4pt 412.2pt 458.0pt 503.8pt 549.6pt 595.4pt 641.2pt 687.0pt 732.8pt'>5. 
 When we moved out here, we did appoint a Proxy to vote for us but this, unfortunately, fell apart in due course and so we now no longer have a vote.  I downloaded the voting form from the details given on your site and found another irritating situation.  We would need to vote by post and, in the notes, it says "By post:  If you want your ballot paper sent to you, you should be aware that it may not be sent out until 4 working days before election day.  You need to consider whether there is enough time to receive your ballot paper, mark your vote and return it before voting closes on election day.  Ballot papers that arrive after this time will not be counted.".  Obviously, there is absolutely no way that four days is long enough for them to send the paper to us here in S.W. France and for us to get it back to the far West of Cornwall!  This effectively makes it impossible for expats to vote by post

-------------------------------
 4.  Thank you so much for spearheading the fight to do something about the truly awful situation for expat pensioners resident in France.  We are now respectively 73 and 74 this year and have lived permanently in France for 13 years.  We have not even visited the U.K. for 12 years!  Whilst we are in the same boat as everyone else with regard to the exchange rate, our special anger is concerning the Winter Fuel Allowance.  I was aged 61 when we moved to France in 1996 (my husband is a year younger), but do not qualify for the Winter Fuel Allowance because it did not start until the following year.  For the first few years after it began, no expat pensioner could receive the fuel allowance here even if they had done so before leaving the U.K.  Then, thanks to the good offices of the British Expats Association (Spain), those newer arrivals got it paid and we know of several who got it backdated a few years.  Very nice and we are pleased for them, but what about us?  By definition, those who have been here the longest are invariably the oldest and, like us, sold their houses in the U.K. at modest prices (we got £52,000 for ours in 1997!).  I am not an envious person by nature but, when I think about many of our friends and acquaintances, all of whom are younger than us (some by as much as 12 years younger), many of whom have told us that they have larger pensions and greater capital resources than ourselves, getting this allowance when we are not, I confess to feeling quite bitter and twisted! How does the British government get away with this, some say unlawful, discrimination?
 
As suggested, I am starting today by writing to the M.P. in the constituency in which we lived and shall eagerly await a reply.  To be honest, I shall be extremely surprised if it produces anything positive but one has to start somewhere.  Do you think there is any merit in organising a petition to present to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions?  I am not sure that individual letters, filtering through the system, would have as much impact.  I have to be honest and say that I personally would not know how to organise such a thing and I am not very au fait with the workings of the computer.  Sending/receiving e-mails and surfing the Internet is about as far as I can get!  However, I am more than happy to do whatever I can to help anyone who would be prepared to organise this.  I am a trained touch-typist and so well able to pound away on the keyboard anytime!
 
By contrast with the British government, who have demonstrated blatantly that they have no interest whatsoever in their expat pensioners, the French government are kind to us.  We have a very modest total income (around 15,000 euros gross in 2008) and, therefore, qualify in France for exoneration from Habitation Tax and TV licence and receive a 100-euro reduction on our Taxe Fonciere.  The leading article on the front page of this month's "Connexion" is helpful as we did not know about the "allocation de solidarite aux personnes agees (aspa)".  We will certainly be enquiring about this at our Mairie.  However, this makes it all the more shameful that the government to whom we have paid our dues all our working lives cares nothing for us.  I wonder how much we would be costing them now, at our age, if we were still living in the U.K.?  By choosing to live in France, we are not putting any strain on their services, i.e. hospitals, social services, retirement homes, etc. etc.  All they have to do is pay to the French government just over (I believe) £2,000 a year for every British expat pensioner with a Form E121.  Obviously, this leaves a considerable shortfall for the French government to subsidise. 
 
As you say, we all came to France to enjoy our retirement and why not?  We're all Europeans, aren't we?
 
Very warmest thanks, once again, for what you are doing.  Bon courage !!

 -------------------------------

3.  I am not a 'letter writer' but the whole UK attitude to Europe needs to evolve, the centuries of war are over, mainland Europe is no longer a refuge for spies, exiles and traitors, which is what they think we are.  The Brits in the UK speak of Europe as the Americans do, as somewhere else.  I could rant on but won't bore you, I too was a teacher.

----------------------

2.  Well done you - good site.

However should we not be pretty embarrassed as a country - one of the richest on earth - to have one of the lowest state pensions in Europe?

-----------------------------------------

1.         A Blog Reader sent this letter to the Works and Pensions Committee relating to an item on the Politics Show

To: Work&Pensions Committee
Subject: The Politics Show

With reference to Terry Rooney's comments on The Politics Show I should like to point out that the UK subjects living in France are not all millionaires.  I came here to work in 1976 for 3 years, went back to the UK until my parents died and came here in 1990 to work (partly in protest about the Poll Tax)  I retired at 65 and am now 67.  I am already disenfranchised as I have no vote in the parliamentary elections either here or in the UK and while many fellow Brits here who are far better off than me get their heating allowance, I do not.  I find neither of these issues acceptable in a democracy and the injustice is compounded by the enormous drop in our pensions caused by the weakness of sterling. 

 

The reply received from the Work and Pensions Committee was essentially.

Thank you for your comments. The Committee agreed at its first meeting after being appointed in July 2005 that it would not undertake investigations into individual cases and is therefore not able to examine further the points that you raise. I will ensure that your letter is circulated to all Members of the Committee.

--------------------------------------