Advice for British expats in Alicante

Over 1 million Britons have bought a house in Spain over the last decade

Some are not prepared for when the “dream turns sour” according to a report in yesterday’s Telegraph. To remedy this British citizens that have gone the whole hog and moved to Spain will be able to take advantage of free advice surgeries following calls for help during the British & European economic crisis. The outreach programme is being held initially for people living in the Alicante region and is organised by the British Consular Service in partnership with Age Concern and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The surgeries will run every fortnight at two different venues across the region, according to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Launched by the UK’s minister for consular affairs, Gillian Merron, the move is set to benefit Britons who have relocated to Alicante and surrounding province.

The surgeries will offer a range of advice about pensions, UK benefits, healthcare, charitable organisations and moving back to the UK. Visitors to the sessions will also advised of their eligibility for Spanish unemployment benefit and other help. Those using the service will be guaranteed confidentiality.

Consular staff will run the advice surgeries in the areas where it is considered they are needed most. This includes running sessions from the Age Concern centre in Torrevieja.

On her visit to expat communities on the Costa Blanca, Merron said that many Britons living in Spain were not adequately prepared for when “the dream turns sour“, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Life happens and things go wrong whether people stay at home or move abroad,

. . . she told the paper.

The minister said that problems were exacerbated by the differences between the systems in the UK and Spain.

It is made worse out here, where people don’t have access to the services they are used to in the UK. The Spanish system is very different to that at home and people have to be aware of that and the problems it may bring.

We want expats to know they have not been abandoned by the British government,”

. . . said Ms Merron of the scheme which she hopes will extend throughout Spain and eventually other countries where there are a high concentration of Britons living abroad. But she said the priority must be on informing British people about the difficulties they may face before they make the decision to move abroad.

One of the biggest problems is that people don’t integrate into the local community. They have to be made aware that to make things work it takes strong commitment to learning the Spanish language and fitting in with the local way of doing things.

“Before people give everything up in the UK they should know what the deal is here. I want them to be prepared for difficult times and think twice before making the move.

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