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Winter Fuel Payments

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average percentage of pensioners’ energy bills likely to be met by the winter fuel allowance in 2007-08. (163849)

[holding answer 19 November 2007]: The information is in the following table. The winter fuel payment is intended to provide a contribution towards winter heating bills which account for around 60 per cent. of the total annual fuel bill. The payment provides a significant contribution to these higher winter costs. Winter fuel payments have increased from 20 in 1997-98 to the current value of £200 for households with someone aged 60 to 79 years of age, and £300 for households with someone aged 80 or over.

2007-08

Average expenditure on fuel (£)

731

Average winter fuel payment (£)

236

Likely percentage of total fuel bill met by winter fuel payment (Percentage)

32

Between 1996-97 and 2005-06 pensioners' incomes increased by 29 per cent. in real terms, compared with a 15 per cent. real terms increase in utility bills between 1996-97 and 2006. It is important to note that whilst pensioner incomes tend to increase consistently, with two per cent growth between 2004-05 and 2005-06 building on the growth in earlier years, utility bills tend to fluctuate.

Average household fuel expenditure for 2007-08 is estimated using the domestic fuel price inflation rate between the second quarter of 2006 to the second quarter of 2007, of 6 per cent. This is the most recent reliable fuel price inflation data, available from the BERR quarterly energy prices September 2007 report. The estimates given here for 2007-08 are subject to change if fuel inflation for the year ahead deviates from this rate.

Notes:

1. Figures for 2007-08 are estimates based on the most recent available data and projections.

2. Average winter fuel payments have been calculated by dividing expenditure on winter fuel payments by the number of households in receipt of winter fuel payments.