Expats Lose Free Healthcare, Winter Fuel Allowance, And Eastenders
Continued spending cuts across the government, and funded bodies, means that some UK expatriates abroad will lose access to free NHS healthcare and winter fuel allowance. The cuts have led to considerable criticism for the government. Meanwhile, the BBC has changed the satellite that it uses for its BBC domestic TV service, which means that expats in Southern Spain have now lost free access to the service.
The NHS is currently undergoing a cost saving review, in which the service is looking for ways to save billions of pounds and make the service a sustainable and beneficial service for UK citizens. The National Health Service is the world’s largest publically funded health service and now has a budget of more than £100bn annually. As well as treating UK citizens at home, the health service also offers access to free healthcare while abroad, and for some expatriates.
However, the organisation has announced that they will be withdrawing the access to free healthcare that retired expatriates under the state retirement age currently receive. Under the current system, submitting a valid S1 form before they leave means that expats are able to receive two and half years of free healthcare. It is believed that this will be scrapped from 1st April. Upon reaching state retirement age, free healthcare will be reinstated, and the European Health Insurance Card remains unaffected.
In another blow to retiree expats, and those looking to retire abroad, the government has announced that it plans to scrap the payment of winter fuel allowances to retirees that live abroad. This would save approximately £17m, and Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith has defended the move by reiterating that it will only apply to people living in countries with an annual average temperature above 5.6 degrees centigrade.
Expats in Southern Spain have further reason to complain, but this time at the BBC Trust. They have been able to receive what is effectively a spill over from the BBC, even though the service is only meant for UK licence payers. A change in the satellite used by the service means that those expats have now lost access and will need to watch online or pay for a BBC Worldwide package instead.