Why can I not receive the UK’s Winter Fuel Payment in France?

Britons fulfilling criteria in other EU countries can still receive payment, but France is absent from the list

What is the relevance of Guadeloupe to the UK in calculating Winter Fuel Payments?
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Reader Question: I know the UK offers a Winter Fuel Payment, including for those living overseas, but it seems we are not eligible (we live in France). Friends who live in other European countries get it, so I am not sure why we do not.

The UK government offers a Winter Fuel Payment to help those born before a certain year pay their heating bills during the colder months.

Some Britons living overseas in EU countries are eligible for this payment, providing they meet other conditions.

The first of these is the date you moved to the country. If you left the UK after January 1, 2021 you are ineligible for the payment.

Additionally, you must have a “genuine and sufficient link to the UK”, such as having family still living there, or having worked in the UK for a certain amount of time.

Finally, you have to be above a certain age, as only older people are eligible (usually state pensioners). Current rules state you must be born before September 1957.

‘Hot’ countries excluded from UK’s Winter Fuel Payment

However, not all Britons living in the EU qualify even if they meet all of the above conditions. This dates back to calculations the UK undertook some years ago to determine countries’ ‘average’ winter temperatures.

Countries with an average temperature above that of the warmest part of the UK, the south-west, were classed as ‘hot countries’ with milder winters, and people living here are ineligible for the payments.

‘Hot countries’ include Spain and Portugal, although surprisingly Italy is eligible for Winter Fuel Payments, presumably because of its mountain areas.

France is also classed as ‘hot’, meaning those living in here are ineligible for the payment, regardless of whether they fulfil the other criteria.

The reason for this, despite generally low temperatures in the country over winter (and the climate being comparable to many other countries on the list), is because of how the UK measured the temperature of ‘France’.

French overseas territories included

Unlike many of the other countries in the EU, France retains a number of overseas territories.

Five of these (Mayotte, Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana) are classed as ‘overseas departments’.

This means that – in theory – they are treated in the same way as departments in mainland France and Corsica.

This includes use of the euro and access to other services mainland French departments receive (however, they are not part of the Schengen Area).

The UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) previously said that because of the status of these areas, being considered French departments and therefore part of the EU, their average temperatures were included in the UK temperature calculation.

It did not include such French overseas territories as French Polynesia and New Caledonia in their measurements, which are not classified as departments.

The inclusion of these departments increased France’s overall winter temperature rating, despite the fact very few British pensioners were living there.

The DWP noted that, if these areas had not been counted, the average winter temperature of France and Corsica (calculated in 2016) was 5.08C, lower than the 5.6C in south-west England, which would make British pensioners in France eligible.

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