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Winter Fuel Payments: Multiple Occupation

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints his Department has received regarding incorrect winter fuel payments being made to persons living in buildings which contain multiple self-contained flats in the last 12 months. (242844)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people have received an incorrect payment of winter fuel allowance because they were incorrectly assessed as living with another qualifying individual in a single building divided into multiple dwellings in the last 12 months; (243019)

(2) what steps he has taken to ensure that people living in properties divided into multiple dwellings receive the correct rate of winter fuel payment.

Each year, before winter fuel payments are made, the DWP carries out a complex data matching process involving around 18 million records. The aim is to determine or confirm personal circumstances and calculate the payment amount due.

The data matching exercise identifies any issues, including those relating to household arrangements. Issues often arise when customers provide incomplete addresses, for example they may omit a flat number. If DWP identify large numbers of people residing at the same address action is taken to try to identify if it is a multiple dwelling address.

If a customer contacts the Department because they feel their winter fuel payment is for the wrong amount, the position is checked and the payment corrected if necessary. Out of 12 million payments in 2007-08 less than a quarter of 1 per cent. of individuals received a top up due to incorrect payments.