[holding answer 12 January 2009]: Entitlement to winter fuel payments is based upon people's circumstances in the qualifying week (set in legislation as 3rd Monday in September). Using the September qualifying week means that the payments can be made before Christmas in time for when winter fuel bills arrive.
The additional costs incurred by paying winter fuel payments on a pro-rata basis to those who reach the qualifying age during the period after the qualifying week but before the end of the financial year are approximately £40 million in 2008-09.
As population projections vary considerably in the future, it is not possible to give an average per year figure for the costs.
No information is collected which would enable the estimation of the administrative expenditure incurred in making payments to persons who attain the qualifying age after the qualifying period.
Figures are based on 2008 ONS population projections. Costs for any given year will vary with population fluctuations.