Save residents from winter fuel payment wipe out says Local MP

January 17, 2008 5:19 PM

Mark is calling for bigger winter fuel payments for pensioners to cover the rising costs of fuel

Mark Hunter local MP for the Cheadle constituency is calling on the Government to protect pensioners in the local area from energy price rises. This call comes after figures revealed that recent increases in the cost of electricity and gas are set to wipe out pensioners' winter fuel payments.

Figures received by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library show that since 2004/5, and taking into account recently announced price rises:

• For a typical pensioner household aged 65-74 with gas central heating, gas bills have gone up by £260pa and electricity by £160pa - a total of £420 extra each year.

• For a typical pensioner household aged over 75 gas bills are up £200pa and electricity bills up £150pa - a total of £350.

• The value of the Winter Fuel Payment per household for those aged 60-79 is £200, and £300 for those aged over 80. Leaving pensioners having to find the missing money just to cover the rise in fuel costs.

• The £300 rate for the over 80s was introduced in the winter of 2003/04 and hasn't risen since.

"Elderly and disabled people are hardest hit by the fuel price hikes, which more than wipe out the value of their Winter Fuel Payment," said Mark Hunter MP. "This will leave many of Cheadle constituency residents in a financially difficult position.

"The Government must do far more to combat fuel poverty. The top priority must be to end the scandal where pensioners are paying a fortune to heat draughty houses where a lot of the heat is simply wasted. Many older people are currently paying to heat the great outdoors in addition to their own home.

"This is a waste of scarce cash and also makes no sense for the environment.

"In many other European countries with much colder weather, household energy bills are lower because homes are better insulated and heating is more energy-efficient.

"The Government needs to get its act together and make sure that our pensioners don't have to make a choice between heating and eating during cold winter days."

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