Winter Fuel Payment
Tell the Truth 2
Manipulation of statistics by IDs & DWP
Iain Duncan Smith spent three years denigrating UK Expats who had exercised their legal right to free movement, by seeking a more relaxing way of life, and, in some cases, a warmer life, elsewhere in the European Union.
During that time span, he was ever ready to provide The Daily Mail with ‘flowery’ quotes, about a policy which became known as the ‘Temperature Test’, or 'Temperature Link'. A test to determine which country, or territory, was to be designated a ‘hot’ country, and one where the UK Expats living there would no longer be eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment, an ‘old-age risk benefit’ of £200 a year.
The Temperature Evidence
Anyone who knows anything about weather and temperatures will know that when outdoor temperatures fall as low as 5.6°C, the time has come to switch on some heat in most homes. For a number of years, until 2015, NHS England publishes two booklets each October providing detailed guidance and advice for the care of the elderly in cold winter weather during the year ahead. Those booklets advise that the elderly, those over 65, should heat their homes to at least 18.0°C. The booklets also state that temperatures below 8.0°C give a greater risk of death for those over 65, particularly those with underlying health problems.
When the 'Temperature Link' policy was implemented, declaring that six countries and one overseas territory were ‘hot’, it signalled UK Citizens living there would no longer receive the Winter Fuel Payment.
Three of those countries had average winter temperatures which fell below the 8.0°C threshold identified by NHS England as a level which was life threatening. They were France with 7.0°C; Greece with 7.1°C; and Spain with 7.3°C. Those three countries accounted for 82,100 of the 95,890 claimants who were paid the WFP in 2014/2015. In other words, 86% of those UK Pensioners put at life threatening risk, by being denied help with their heating bills - as if IDS believed because they might experience more days of sunshine in summer, they have no need for heat in the winter!
The real truth is a whole lot different. IDS targeted those UK Citizens who had been granted the WFP, as a direct consequence of a Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union. 33,705 claimants, whose original claims had been refused by the DWP, because they had left the UK before reaching the age of 60 - the original qualifying age for receiving WFP.
The CJEU Judgment of 2011 confirmed earlier Judgments that had identified the WFP was, what is called, an ‘old-age risk benefit’, and that those affected could legally and legitimately take, or ‘export’, that benefit with them if they moved to another country within the EU.
The DWP let it be known that IDS was ‘furious’ at the results of that Judgment - known as the 'Judgment in Stewart', so called because it had confirmed the DWP had been wrong to deny incapacity benefit to a Downs Syndrome sufferer, Lucy Stewart, who had never worked, and in all likelihood will never be able to work, at least not in any normal job; and who had been taken by her parents to live along the Costa del Sol to give her a better quality of life,
The DWP lawyers decided that the new 'Temperature Link' policy could not be targeted on the new claimants alone, but had to include all the others who had qualified for the WFP before leaving the UK. This meant that IDS and the DWP had to extend the policy to the other 71% of claimants, in order to ‘get round’ the Judgment in Stewart! This allowed IDS to claim he had met EU regulations.
DWP Twisting and Turning
The DWP, whilst under Iain Duncan Smith’s stewardship, deliberately and cynically, manipulated and distorted their own DWP published statistics, in order to strengthen their case for removing the WFP from 95,890 UK Expats. The DWP consistently presented misleading information to stimulate Parliamentary support, and public approval, for the their 'Temperature Link' policy.
In July 2013, the DWP stated the following: ‘an estimated 471,000 people in the EEA and Switzerland who are potentially entitled to the WFP in 2012/2013 ….’, and went on to state: ‘we estimate that around 74,000 are expected to already be in receipt of the WFP in 2012/2013, leaving a potential increase in the WFP caseload of 397,000’.
The latest figure released by the DWP for the February 2017 quarter via the DWP's own Stat-Xplore website, shows there are 492,118 British Pensioners living in EU/EEA Countries. However, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), shows that only half of those were born in Britain. The other half are EU Nationals who having earned a British pension, through working there have returned to their homelands.
That IDS and the DWP ‘promoted’ those figures cannot be in doubt! On three separate occasions The Mail Online reported: ‘The European Court of Justice ruling means the Government must pay the annual handout worth as much as £300 to up to 444,000 British pensioners living abroad’.
This was used to build the impression that all 444,000 pensioners would claim £300.
That WAS NOT true - that IS NOT true!
IDS and the DWP made no attempt to correct that impression. Many Tory MPs latched onto these scaremongering tactics, when replying to letters from concerned constituents, when the real truth was many times less!
DWP published statistics prove that across the last three years where data was available, the average payments were £179.06, £175.30, and £177.87 respectively - a long way short of £300! And, since there were only 135,285 British Expat Pensioners who actually received payment, it is thus evident that 71% of the potential number of British Pensioners have never bothered to make a claim!
A further example of the degree to which IDS and the DWP tried to generate scare tactics that there would be an explosion in the number of claims following on from the Judgment in Stewart.
IDS’s Own Dodgy Dossier
IDS embarked on his policy of denigration of those to be affected - UK Pensioners - who were being paid the WFP whilst living outside the UK in countries designated by IDS as being ‘hot’ in winter.
He deliberately timed his interventions to slot in between articles appearing in The Daily Mail in their long-running campaign to expose real ‘Benefit Cheats’ - people who lived in places like the Costa del Sol, but were claiming tens of thousands of pounds of benefits illegally, so much so, that some of them have since been imprisoned for fraudulent claims.
We must ask why IDS attacked us all so often, because the sum of money he ‘saved’ was but a tiny drop in the bucket of the enormous budget he once controlled. Unfortunately, the attacks made by IDS on law-abiding UK Pensioners, succeeded in branding everyone in receipt of any benefit as some kind of ‘benefit cheats’, even though their claims were legal and legitimate.
The Daily Mail used pictures of IDS alongside pictures of the Puerto Banús Marina to illustrate all types of articles, often using IDS quotes in headlines. The DWP released figures which they knew could never become true. As the man on whose desk the buck stopped, knew only too well!
1. IDS and the DWP claimed there would be 130,000 'additional' claimants by 2014/2015, as a direct result of the CJEU Judgment in Stewart. There were, in fact, only 33,705 'additional' claimants from the designated 'hot' countries. Contrast this with 25,640 'additional' claimants living in the Irish Republic, all of whom get to keep their WFP into 2016/2017 and beyond, because the Irish Republic was declared to be a 'cold' country by IDS and the DWP!
2. IDS and the DWP claimed there would be £30 Million of 'additional' expenditure by 2014/2015, as a direct result of the CJEU Judgment in Stewart. There was, in fact, only £6.433 Million of 'additional' expenditure from the designated 'hot' countries. Contrast this with £4.610 Million of 'additional' expenditure for those living in the Irish Republic, all of whom get to keep their WFP into 2016/2017 and beyond, because the Irish Republic was declared to be a 'cold' country by IDS and the DWP!
Here are some of the quoted statements from IDS:
Go to Tell the Truth 3 to see what IDS said to the Press