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Fuel Poverty

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department spent tackling fuel poverty in each the last 10 years; and how much it expects to spend in the next 12 months. (217599)

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for paying winter fuel payments and cold weather payments which help to improve incomes and in turn help to take people out of fuel poverty.

The available expenditure on winter fuel payments and cold weather payments is shown in the following tables, in nominal and real terms.

Great Britain, nominal terms

£ million

Status

Winter fuel payments, including over 80 payments

Cold weather payments

Outturn

1998-99

194

0.2

1999-2000

759

1.0

2000-01

1,749

30.0

2001-02

1,681

15.3

2002-03

1,705

14.2

2003-04

1,916

3.5

2004-05

1,962

1.8

2005-06

1,982

8.4

2006-07

2,015

3.4

Provisional outturn

2007-08

2,061

4.0

Plans

2008-09

2,664

Great Britain, 2008-09 prices

£ million

Status

Winter fuel payments, including over 80 payments

Cold weather payments

Outturn

1998-99

251

0.3

1999-2000

961

1.3

2000-01

2,182

37.4

2001-02

2,047

18.6

2002-03

2,014

16.8

2003-04

2,199

4.0

2004-05

2,192

2.0

2005-06

2,168

9.2

2006-07

2,143

3.6

Provisional outturn

2007-08

2,123

4.1

Plans

2008-09

2,664

Notes:

1. All figures are consistent with Budget 2008, as well as expenditure information published on the internet at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/expenditure.asp

2. Winter fuel payments are rounded to the nearest million pounds, but cold weather payments have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand pounds.

3. The winter fuel payment was introduced in 1997. Annual payments are made to most people aged 60 or over. The current rate is £200 per household with someone eligible and aged between 60 and 79 and £300 per household containing someone eligible and aged 80 or over. At present over 8 million households benefit each year.

4. From 2000-01, winter fuel payments were extended to include people aged 60 to 64 years and also include the over 80 payments.

5. Winter fuel payment expenditure is forecast to increase significantly in 2008-09 following the announcement at Budget 2008 of an additional payment for winter 2008-09 of £50 for eligible households with someone aged between 60 and 79 and £100 for households with someone aged 80 or over.

6. Customers eligible for cold weather payments are those awarded pension credit or those awarded income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance who have a pensioner or disability premium or have a child who is disabled or under the age of five. Following the introduction of employment and support allowance in October of this year eligible customers will also include those in receipt of income related employment and support allowance that includes a work or support component, any disability premium, or who have a child who is disabled or under the age of five. A payment is made when the average temperature has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0°C or below over seven consecutive days at the weather station linked to the eligible customer’s postcode.

7. Up to and including the winter of 2007-08, a cold weather payment was £8.50 for each week of very cold weather. The Prime Minister has announced that for the winter 2008-09 a cold weather payment will be increased to £25 for each week of very cold weather.

8. Cold weather payment expenditure for 2008-09 cannot be forecast because the number of payments will be dependent on the severity of the winter. However, a notional figure of £24 million is included in the forecasts for the Social Fund, provided to HM Treasury.

Source:

Departmental Accounting and statistical data