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Expat Health Insurance News: Expats hit back in winter fuel row

British expats have hit back after the government decided it would stop paying a winter fuel allowance to those pensioners living in warmer climes than the UK. 

In his Spending Review this week, the chancellor George Osborne claimed that paying the benefit to those who no longer work in Britain is "not a fair use of the nation's cash" and pledged to introduce a temperature test from 2015 to determine who should stopped receiving the allowance. 

Mr Osborne told the House of Commons that the move was in response to a ruling by the European Union that said expats living in the European Economic Area would be able to put in a claim for the winter fuel allowance even if they didn't receive it before they left the UK. 

It was later revealed that the temperature test would affect expats living in seven countries – Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus – where the average winter temperature is higher than in south-west Britain – the nation's warmest region.

Unsurprisingly, many expats in those affected countries have responded angrily to the decision. 

Brian Cave, 80, who has lived in Gourdon, south-east France, for 15 years, told the Telegraph that just because a country might be warmer than the UK doesn't mean it's not cold. 

"There are British retirees who live in France who are hard-up," he said. "They are going to be refused this allowance based on the ridiculous argument that France is warmer than south-west England, which is not true. The temperature can drop to minus 10 in winter."

Others pointed out that by living abroad, expatriate pensioners are in fact saving the UK millions in healthcare costs. 

Nicola Wortelhock, 66, who moved to the Costa del Sol in Spain 13 years ago, told the news provider: "I wish that someone would price what UK saves by the use of the excellent Spanish health service available to all pensioners and taking considerable pressure off the NHS. Also pensioners living here have no bus passes or TV licences."

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