Winter fuel allowance cut by up to £100

Last updated: Mar 24th, 2011
Gas fire

Pensioners will see their winter fuel allowance payments cut, with the over 80s worst hit with their benefit being slashed by £100.

Although Chancellor George Osborne didn't mention it in his Budget speech, it has emerged that pensioners will lose out on top–up payments to their winter fuel allowance.

Without the top–ups, over–80s will receive £100 less while over–60s will receive £50 less.

The basic winter fuel allowances of £300 (for over 80s) and £250 (for over 60s) will remain.

Bills increasing

This latest revelation comes at a time when household energy bills are increasing dramatically. In 2008, when the allowance was first introduced, the average home gas and electric bill cost £819; the average now is £1,132.

Read Rachel Lacey's blog: How I cut my energy bills in half

Although the coalition government argues that it is doing nothing different to the previous government, campaign groups for the elderly argue it's of small comfort.

"We appreciate that the winter fuel payment has been retained in the face of huge financial pressure but with energy prices continuing to escalate, many old people will find it strange that they will receive less," says Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK.

The winter fuel payment was introduced to help pensioners cope with growing energy bills and is eligible to anyone born on or before 5 July 1950 (for the 2010/11 winter).

Funding cuts to the scheme were already announced at the end of 2010 with two thirds of its budget taken away.

Ann Robinson, director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: "The government needs to understand that pensioners are already concerned about next winter. The withdrawal of the extra payments of £50 for those under 80 and £100 for those over 80, will hit pensioners hard, especially the large number that are living in fuel poverty. It's this group in particular that need as much help and support as possible from the Government.
 
"Last December was the coldest in 100 years and 55% of people went without heating at some point last winter to keep their energy costs down, and two in ten (20%) regularly went without. This year, without extra help, many pensioners will be condemned to a cold miserable winter and may suffer ill health as a result."

Your Comments

This is appalling and a real sneaky way of doing it. It was not mentioned in the budget papers. Not a good PR move! I hope the press really "go to town" on this one.

About time this benefit was cut. I'm not saying that Pensioners in need shouldnt get it, but why should it be given to every pensioner regardless of how well off they are ?

Better still it should be means tested, then more money can be given to those who are in real need rather than it acting as a little bit of pocket money for the next holiday.

I would presume that Working Man is quite comfortable financially, and doesn't know any older people who could, quite literally, freeze to death thanks to this idiotic policy.

To think it's okay to remove it from everyone, even those who need it, because some might not need it is...cold hearted.

Working Man - yes, it should, if cut at all, be means tested - and generously at that- but that is NOT the plan, so please don't appear to support what they are doing. I don't know how my 90 year old mother will manage next winter.

the top up payment of £25 per week for cold snaps for pensioners on credits
is set to high instead of doing away with top up fuel payments it would have been fairer to look at this aspect instead of punishing those that worked hard for their retirement

what a load of hypocrites this goverment is,they cut our winter fuel allowance by £100 while still allowing the bankers to pay themselves millions in bonuses and allowing the tax exiles to get away with millions,if the goverment had the guts to tax all these millionaires there full taxes,it could pay of the national debt in less than two years,PS i am an 85 oap on state pension only.