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Martyn, Lloyd Millen - centre & Laura at presentation

Yesterday evening the British Vice Consul, Lloyd Millen and his team came to Benidorm to give an informative talk on the services offered by the Consulate - which took place at Benidorm Town Hall.
The presentation was well attended with over 100 British ex-pats and was opened by Mr Millen, who gave an informative talk on the role of the Consulate.
The Consulate which is located on Plaza Calvo Sotelo in Alicante, has 8 members of staff working there. However, they will be moving premises within the next few months as the current office does not have wheelchair access - details will be posted on the Consulate website.
The Consulate covers a vast area stretching from Valencia to Cartagena, but they also have 3 honorary Consuls located in Valencia, Denia and Murcia to deal with any emergencies. There are 167,000 Brits officially registered on the padron - suprisingly though, in Benidorm only 8% of the residents are British. It is thought that this figure is in actual fact far higher but many Brits still fail to register on the padron of their local Town Hall. This then means that the Town Hall does not get its proper share of the budget from central government, which covers police and health services, as the percentage is worked out on the officially registered residents on the padron. So if you do not register then don't moan about lack of services in your town! It also means you are not eligable to vote in the local elections. If you live here for more than 3 months of the year then you should register - that includes those that go back and forth between Spain and the UK.
Last year the Consulate dealt with 1200 assistance cases, which covers death, emergencies, missing persons and issued 1075 emergency travel documents. The Alicante Consulate replaces more UK passports than any other Consulate in the world! The staff deal with aprox. 5000 visitors; 27,000 phone calls;1350 emails/letters  and are responsible for the 3.5 million British tourists that visit the area every year - so they keep fairly busy. They have a crisis response team that in the last year have dealt with emergencies such as the earthquake in Lorca and the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud which left thousands of tourists stranded - the team were on hand at the airport giving out help and advice.

Me with Lloyd Millen, British Vice Consul

Lloyd then handed over to Martyn from the Pensions & Benefit team who gave information on your rights and responsibilities here in Spain. They do not handle any tax queries - this all goes through HM Revenue & Customs in the UK. Martyn talked through the various benefits that ex-pats could be entitled to living here including Unemployment Benefit, Incapacity & Disability Benefits and means tested entitlements via Social Services.
Laura then spoke about Healthcare and who is entitled to what. If you are in receipt of a UK pension then you qualify for UK funded health care. Early retirees should obtain an S1 form from the UK (formally the E106) and this will cover them and their dependants for a maximum of two and a half years. After this time, if  you are not of pension age then you have two options. Either to pay into a private healthcare scheme or participate in the Valencian Monthly Quota Scheme - this costs 90€ per person per month and will entitle you to full health care under the social security system, which covers any pre-exisiting conditions.
The EHIC entitles you to access necessary emergency treatment whilst abroad  from your home country. It does NOT cover repatriation in the case of any emergencies, therefore it was advised to take out travel insurance to cover for these eventualities. The EHIC does cover pre-existing medical conditions.
There then followed a half hour question and answer session by the audience. For further information on any aspects of living in Spain go to the Consulate website at www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk
Lloyd reminded us that the 3 part documentary series "Our man in ..." looking at the work of the British Consulate, starts today on Channel 4 at 11pm Spanish time - tonight's episode features the Alicante Consulate.

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