Moneywise helps a reader whose mother is owed money
My mother is having trouble getting her full winter fuel allowance from the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP). She’s entitled to £300 as she’s 87, but she got a letter in November that said she was only to be paid £200 as she lives with someone who also received the benefit.
I am the only one living with my mum and I don’t qualify for the fuel allowance. I rang the DWP and it admitted the error and said a request would be made for the remaining £100, but it never arrived. I rang to chase it up but the woman on the phone was obstructive and said it would be paid any time up to 31 March.
Can you help?
This was simple to sort out. I contacted the DWP with your mum’s details and concerns and pointed out she was naturally worried about being able to pay for heating when the bitterly cold spell hit in January. The response was rapid.
A DWP spokesperson told me: “A top-up payment has been made and a letter is on its way to the customer. Due to large volumes of correspondence sometimes customers are advised that issues may take a little longer to resolve.”
Your mum was relieved and thankful, but there are lessons here for all government bodies. While the DWP may have been deluged with complaints and queries about winter fuel payments, it still has a duty of care to its clients, particularly vulnerable elderly.
Fobbing them off with a generic: “You will have to wait until it’s sorted” really isn’t good enough. If someone is so concerned they have taken the time to contact the DWP, then staff should be trained to give a personal response with some actual details, rather than just brushing people off.
OUTCOME: DWP pays £100 fuel allowance owed
Simon Read is a a money writer and broadcaster. He was personal finance editor at The Independent and is an expert on BBC1’s Right On The Money