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BRITS IN ITALY

‘It’s a disaster’: How Brits in Italy are being hit by drop in value of pound

We asked our British readers to explain how the recent drop in the value of the pound will affect their lives in Italy. Here’s what they had to say.

Sterling banknotes.
The overwhelming response from Britons in Italy was that the drop in value of the pound will have a negative impact on their lives. Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP

The British pound experienced a record 37-year low against the dollar on September 24th, following on from a months-long fall in its value.

Though the Bank of England has managed to prevent a “material risk” to the country’s stability by buying government bonds, UK markets remain highly volatile and the slide in the value of the sterling seems to have already caused the price of goods and services in the UK to climb.

That’s in the UK, but how about Britons living in Italy? 

Last week, we asked our readers to tell us how they’ve already been affected and what they expect the ongoing impact of a weak pound will be on their lives unless the currency bounces back.  

READ ALSO: Climate zones: When can you turn your heating on Italy this winter?

We received answers to our survey from all corners of the boot, from Bolzano, Trentino Alto-Adige to Oria, Puglia. 

The overwhelming response was that the pound’s drop in value in Italy will negatively impact the lives of UK nationals in Italy.

Expectedly, most respondents pointed to unfavourable exchange rates as being the most negative consequence of the sterling’s slump, with many expressing concern about having to transfer savings from a UK account to an Italian one. 

“For the moment, it is a disaster; I can’t even think of making a transfer of pounds into euros,” said one reader living in the capital, Rome. 

Another Briton, Carol Lewis, living in Collazzone, Umbria, had similar worries. She said: “All my pensions are paid in sterling. It is making what was already a bit tight financially post-brexit even tighter.”

“Combined with increased costs generally, we are having to cut back a lot on extras and be more careful about how we spend our money.”

Pound coins and banknotes.

Following on from the pound’s drop in value, Britons in Italy are expressing concern over unfavourable exchange rates when transferring money from UK accounts. Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP

Alison Reith, from San Salvatore Monferrato, Piedmont, also acknowledged that the pound’s weakness was putting Brits at a serious disadvantage when transferring money from overseas. 

However, she also pointed the finger at soaring living costs in Italy, admitting that it’ll be difficult to “pay for petrol, food and heating” this winter and “cuts on all costs” will sadly have to be made.  

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How much are energy prices rising in Italy this autumn? 

While sharing that expense cuts were in the cards for the cold season, many readers told us how they were trying to overcome their recent money-transferring adversities.

Julius Vloothuis, 75, living in Naples, described money transfer platform Wise, formerly known as Transferwise, as somewhat of a “saving grace” – the website allows clients to move money practically free of charge and sends out alerts when the market has favourable exchange rates.

On a similar note, Dennis, living in Rome, advised fellow countrymen to “act as an investor” and watch the exchange rates on a regular basis.

While most readers were reasonably concerned about the pound’s downswing, some responded to our survey by saying that the event would have little impact on their lives. 

Leslie Whitehouse, a retired teacher living in Bolzano, said that “unless massive, a fall in the rate of pound sterling against the euro will not affect my life”. 

Similarly, Iain Gosling, 73, told us that, having “bought a block of euros last year via [currency exchange service] TORFX”, rate fluctuations haven’t really affected his family thus far. 

Finally, some The Local Italy readers confided that they were actually quite happy with the pound dropping in value.

George Newman, 32, from Viareggio, Tuscany said: “Great, buying a house in the UK now and earning in euros. Tax cut to stamp duty too!! Winning!”

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UK AND ITALY

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment. But can Britons living in Italy really claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Italian homes?

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

Average winter temperatures vary across Italy, but those who move here after only experiencing scorching summers are often surprised to discover just how cold the country can get.

Even the hardiest of arrivals from colder climes will no doubt have to switch on the radiators or fire up the woodburner between November and February – despite the surging costs.

READ ALSO: Not just gas: How the cost of heating has soared in Italy

As the cost of living crisis bites, some UK nationals who reside in Italy may wonder if they could still be eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK.

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The UK’s winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government’s website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

I’m a UK national living in Italy. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

Yes, if you meet the following criteria according to the British government’s website:

“If you do not live in the UK, you’re only eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • you moved to an eligible country before 1 January 2021
  • you were born before 26 September 1956
  • you have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK”

Unlike Spain and France, which the British government has deemed to be too warm on average, Italy is on the list of eligible countries along with Austria, Germany, Sweden, and others.

Find out how to claim the fuel payment on the UK government’s website here.

According to the UK government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 degrees Celsius in the UK.

READ ALSO: At what time of day is electricity cheapest in Italy?

The Italian government divides the country into six ‘climate zones’ which determine when and for how long residents should have their heating switched on each winter.

According to the government’s classification, the coldest parts of the country are the northern provinces of Cuneo, Trento, and Belluno, where no heating restrictions apply.

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