The speakers and organisers together at Mijas town hall. / n. MATTHEWS

Burning Brexit questions answered at meeting for British residents

The Foreigners Department organised four speakers to present on life after Brexit at an event in La Cala de Mijas on Tuesday

NEVE MATTHEWS

Around 120 people got together at La Cala de Mijas town hall branch on Tuesday for a series of informative talks focused on the topic of life after Brexit.

Four speakers, organised by Mijas Foreigner's Department, covered a range of issues and provided answers to the questions posed by the audience.

Foreign Residents councillor, Arancha López Lillo, introduced the presenters and expressed that she was very happy "to see the theatre full."

First on the agenda was Blevins Franks, a firm that provides specialist financial advice to British expatriates.

Partner Paul Montague spoke about how the financial situation had changed for British people in Spain following the UK's exit from the EU.

Handling taxes for those who are residents in Spain, the loss of UK advisors and pensions were among the issues discussed.

Montague said, "The benefits of becoming a resident include no 90-day restrictions and you could pay less tax."

Reflecting on participating in the event, he said, "I enjoy helping people and getting the message out to expats who need guidance."

Next, the project manager of Support in Spain, Neil Hesketh, explained the not-for-profit, community information project to the attendees.

The bilingual website makes it easy to find information and support for when things do not go to plan while in Spain, including a directory to help people find answers about topics such as healthcare access, available benefits, disability and bureaucracy.

Hesketh urged the audience to "have a plan for when things go wrong and be evangelists of good information in the community."

British Consul Charmaine Arbouin provided updates from the Consulate. She encouraged people to register as residents in Spain, and those who are already residents to gradually exchange their green documents for a TIE. She said that healthcare would continue as before.

Anne Hernández of the organisation Brexpats in Spain answered audience questions about the issue of UK driving licences, which cease to be valid in Spain on 31 December. She explained that unless a last minute deal is done, UK drivers have to exchange their licence for a Spanish one by taking a test. Some pre-Brexit residents who registered their intention to swap last year still have a few weeks to change and skip a test.

Two residents of Alcalá la Real, Katherine and Christopher Rogers, explained that they moved to Spain 16 months ago, earlier than expected, because of Brexit. Though they started their residency process as soon as they could, "Brexit still throws up problems, and it is very clear that we are low on the [Spanish] government's priority list."

Many of the attendees said that the presentations had been helpful. Rob from Vélez-Malaga who said, "The talks cleared up a few issues and gave me an action plan on the taxation side of things. It is also good to know that there is a support network out here."

Mirroring these sentiments was Lorell, 33, who moved to Mijas in October. She said, "The talks helped amazingly, I am so glad I came. They made me feel much more calm and it is excellent to be able to get immediate answers to my questions."