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British pensioners in France hit hard by sinking pound

The British pound is falling fast against the euro, and British pensioners in France are suffering from the squeeze.

British pensioners in France hit hard by sinking pound
Photo: AFP
At the time of writing, the British pound was worth €1.13, after it suffered a dramatic collapse in the early hours of Friday. 
 
This comes after the pound suffered another major drop back in June when the shock result of the Brexit vote was announced.
 
Pensioners living in France, many of whom rely on their British pensions, have told The Local how much the weakening pound has changed their lives – with many reporting a 30 percent drop in income. 
 
The last week of the pound against the euro. 
 
Can't justify a haircut
 
Debbie Coxon, 62, who lives in central France's Creuse department, said she has been left feeling “really emotional” after Friday's news, a feeling that's been lurking since the Britain voted to leave the EU.  
 
“We were horrified by the vote, and we're fed up of people not in our position saying, 'Nothing much will change' when it already has big time for us,” she told The Local. 
 
“With today's crash, we will now be into finite savings for every bill.”
 
She said that she has to wait until 2020 for her own pension, and that her husband only recently retired at the age of 69. 
 
“We know we can't let it get us down, but having just had to shell out for our winter oil and car service yesterday, that's when the edge is taken off living off the fresh veg and sunshine. 
 
“Personally I feel spat out and utterly ignored – I don't feel I can even justify having my hair cut as an unnecessary expense.”  
 
Photo: AFP
 
Can we put the heating on?
 
Lynda Adcock, a 63-year-old in Brittany, has been left in a similar boat. 
 
“We are really struggling at the moment and it has made us very sad and angry, just for the sake of a political spat between friends. I shall never understand the mess that the referendum had caused,” she told The Local. 
 
“The exchange rate means that we have to think about if we can put the heating on, what we eat and it has generally made a huge impact on our daily life. We always pay our bills first and keep a roof over our heads. That is what is important.”
 
“We have the added matter of feeling insecure with absolutely no information coming from the British government as to how they are going to treat us in times to come, post Brexit. 
 
“We worked hard and long for what we have today and came to France for a better life after my husband was made redundant as the exchange rate was good then and we could afford to live on his pension. It's very different now, we're always worrying about money and I hate it!”
 
The ups and downs of being both French and EnglishPhoto: AFP
 
Christmas won't be the same 
 
Sally Hipwood, a 67-year-old in south eastern France's Vienne department, said she has been left in dismay and fearing the future. 
 
“We have had to rein in our spending, for example we enjoy going to our local auberge for lunch and used to go two or three times a week, whereas now we have reduced it to once a week and, if the pound goes any lower, may have to abandon it altogether,” she told The Local. 
 
“I have already reduced the amount of money I spend each week on groceries. The biggest impact for me though is going to be that I will not be able to go to the UK to see my family as often as I would wish. 
 
“We have just about enough to manage the trip this Christmas (but have had to ask for a family agreement that the adult members do not buy presents for each other, gifts will be limited to the children) but further trips are currently in doubt, as bills continue to rise whilst our income falls.”
 
(AFP)
 
Dreading the bills
 
Cenydd Lowe in Brittany is on a fixed UK pension of around £1,300 per month which he said has seen a serious drop. 
 
“It used to be ample – now it's worth £300 less, and I'm having to live frugally,” he said. 
 
He added that he was “desperately trying” to get his business going in France to get some income in euros to make up the difference. 
 
“I'm well off though, relatively. I have friends who are unable to invite their friends round for meals as they're literally on the breadline.” 
 
He added, however, that he dreads the bills, doesn't go out for meals, and hasn't bought any clothes for a decade. 
 

Photo: Tommy Hemmert Olesen/Flickr 

 
Being mocked for living in Europe
 
Jane Shulver admits that fluctuations in currency was a part of the risk assessment she had made when choosing to up sticks and move to France. 
 
“However the total folly of Brexit and the way it is being handled has left us feeling very bitter about the knock-on effect on our finances,” she said. 
 
“It is as though we are being mocked for living in Europe. At the same time we have rising costs here. At this time of year big bills have to be paid so we've had to have a serious overhaul of our living costs, which are already fairly frugal by many people's standards. We'll need to cut down, and make far fewer visits back to the UK to see our family.”
 
 

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BREXIT

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Brexit hasn't just brought about changes in passport rules for humans, pets are also affected and now the French government has laid out the rules for pet passports for British second-home owners.

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Pre-Brexit, people travelling between France and the UK could obtain an EU Pet Passport for their car, dog or ferret which ensured a hassle-free transport experience.

But since the UK left the EU things have become more complicated – and a lot more expensive – for UK residents wanting to travel to France with pets.

You can find a full breakdown of the new rules HERE, but the main difference for people living in the UK is that that they now need an Animal Health Certificate for travel.

Unlike the Pet Passport, a new ACH is required for each trip and vets charge around £100 (€118) for the certificate. So for people making multiple trips a year, especially those who have more than one pet, the charges can quickly mount up.

UK nationals who live in France can still benefit from the EU Pet Passport, but until now the situation for second-home owners has been a little unclear.

However the French Agriculture ministry has now published updated information on its website.

The rules state: “The veterinarian can only issue a French passport to an animal holding a UK/EU passport issued before January 1st, 2021, after verifying that the animal’s identification number has been registered in the Fichier national d’identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD).”

I-CAD is the national database that all residents of France must register their pets in – find full details HERE.

The ministry’s advice continues: “If not registered, the veterinarian may proceed to register the animal in I-CAD, if the animal’s stay in France is longer than 3 consecutive months, in accordance with Article 22 of the AM of August 1st, 2012 on the identification of domestic carnivores.”

So if you are staying in France for longer than 90 days (which usually requires a visa for humans) your pet can be registered and get a Pet Passport, but those staying less than three months at a time will have to continue to use the AHC.

The confusion had arisen for second-home owners because previously some vets had been happy to issue the Passport using proof of a French address, such as utility bills. The Ministry’s ruling, however, makes it clear that this is not allowed.

So here’s a full breakdown of the rules;

Living in France

If you are living in France full time your pet is entitled to an EU Pet Passport regardless of your nationality (which means your pet has more travel rights than you do. Although they probably still rely on you to drive the car/book the ferry tickets).

Your cat, dog or ferret must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and must be registered in the national pet database I-CAD (full details here).

Once issued, the EU Pet Passport is valid for the length of the animal’s life, although you must be sure to keep up with their rabies vaccinations. Vets in France usually charge between €50-€100 for a consultation and completing the Passport paperwork.

Living in the UK

If you are living in the UK and travelling to France (or the rest of the EU) you will need an Animal Health Certificate for your cat, dog or ferret.

The vaccination requirements are the same as for the EU Pet Passport, but an ACH is valid for only 10 days after issue for entry to the EU (and then for four months for onward travel within the EU).

So if you’re making multiple trips in a year you will need a new certificate each time.

UK vets charge around £100 (€118) for a certificate, although prices vary between practices. Veterinary associations in the UK are also warning of delays in issuing certificates as many people begin travelling again after the pandemic (often with new pets bought during lockdown), so you will need to book in advance. 

Second-home owners

Although previously some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France, the French government has now clarified the rules on this, requiring that pets be registered within the French domestic registry in order to get an EU Pet Passport.

This can only be done if the pet is staying in France for more than three months. The three months must be consecutive, not over the course of a year.

UK pets’ owners will normally require a visa if they want to stay in France for more than three months at a time (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country) – find full details on the rules for people HERE.

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