THE increase in expats claiming winter fuel allowance in Spain has risen by 44 per cent in the last two years.
Last winter, 50,000 expats received winter fuel allowance, an estimated increase of 44 per cent since 2011/2012.
Expats living in Spain have received a total of £60m (€76m) since 2005 in winter fuel allowance. The number of beneficiaries has risen in Spain, Greece and Cyprus to an all-time high, with a total of 139,000 people being paid the benefit for the last winter. Seventy five thousand claimed in the winter of 2011/2012.
The biggest concentrations of expats in receipt of this benefit are in Spain and France, with pay-outs up to £300 (€381) being given to each household.
The total paid in this benefit to expats in 2013-14 was £22m (€28m), a record figure.
In order to qualify for the winter fuel benefit, pensioners abroad need to have been born on or before July 5, 1952. But there is controversy over whether those living abroad in warmer climates should be entitled to the allowance. A spending review in 2015 will examine the possibility of only paying the allowance to expats who live in colder countries than the UK.