Tipperary TD, Noel Coonan, has highlighted that many Irish people returned from a lifetime of work in the UK could be eligible for the UK Winter Fuel Payment Allowance - even if they did not receive the payment while living there.
“The UK Winter Fuel Payment Allowance continues to be paid to thousands of eligible Irish people who moved back to Ireland from the UK and had already been receiving the payment while living there. Since 2002, the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions has paid out more than £8.2m (€9.5m) under this scheme to Irish people who returned to these shores after living and working all their lives in the UK. The annual payment ranges between £100 and £300 sterling depending on circumstances.
“Irish and other nationalities in similar circumstances are eligible for these payments under European law, where some benefits acquired in one Member State must be paid to people who live outside that State, but within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. As a consequence, Winter Fuel Payments were extended to former UK residents - including Irish people - living elsewhere in the EEA and Switzerland if they qualified for a payment before leaving the UK.
“Up to last year, these monies were only paid to Irish people who essentially transferred their Winter Fuel Payments from the UK to Ireland. However, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2012, the qualifying criteria can now be extended to returned Irish people who worked all their lives in the UK but did not avail of the allowance when living there.
“This significant ruling means eligible Irish people who did not apply for the payment before leaving the UK may now claim while living in Ireland if they meet the qualifying criteria.
“To be eligible for this fuel payment, the only requirement is that a claimant was born on or before July 5th, 1951 and have a genuine and sufficient link with the UK. Undoubtedly, many Irish people can easily prove they have lived or worked in the UK for most of their working lives.
“I am keen to highlight the significant change in the qualifying criteria given that it’s likely to positively affect many Irish people who have returned from the UK and who are not aware of this payment. Further details on the scheme can be obtained by accessing https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/how-to-claim or contacting my constituency office,” concluded Deputy Coonan.