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Domestic Heating (Pensioners)

Volume 955: debated on Monday 31 July 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what representations he has received from individuals and from organisations about the hardship caused to retired persons by the cost of domestic heating;(2) whether he will introduce comprehensive proposals for rebates covering all types of fuel and all forms of heating so as to enable retired persons to keep warm in winter.

I and other Ministers have received a number of representations on this point, most recently from members of the National Right to Fuel campaign.

The Government recognise that high fuel bills continue to present problems for some elderly consumers. But since we came into office retirement pensions and supplementary pensions have kept pace with increases in the cost of living, which includes the rise in heating costs; and there have been even greater increases in the value of the extra heating additions available to a large number of supplementary pensioners. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services announced in the House on 12th April, retirement pensions will be further increased by an average of 11ยท4 per cent. in the week beginning 13th November, and there will be corresponding increases in supplementary pensions.

In addition, through the electricity discount schemes which have operated during the past two winters we have provided special help where it has most been needed. As the Secretary of State for Energy announced in a written answer on 31st July, there will be a further discount scheme this coming winter. There are also special safeguards against disconnection of all-pensioner households during the winter months under the provisions of the code of practice on payment of gas and electricity bills, published by the industries in December 1976.