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Winter Fuel Payments

Volume 488: debated on Friday 6 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what steps he is taking to increase the take up of the winter fuel allowance, with particular reference to men aged between 60 and 65 years; (258685)

(2) how many people in Newport West constituency (a) were eligible to claim and (b) claimed the Winter Fuel Allowance in 2007-08.

The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically based on information held in DWP records, without the need to claim. A small proportion of people whose circumstances we do not know, because they are not on state pension or other benefits administered by DWP, do need to make a claim so that their eligibility can be assessed.

For people newly eligible and not in receipt of a benefit administered by DWP, for example men aged 60 to 65 who are in work, we can only determine eligibility once they have submitted the relevant information on a claim form. We send claim forms to customers approaching 60 who we have identified as becoming potentially newly eligible from DWP records, but are not at that time in receipt of state pension.

To raise awareness of eligibility of winter fuel payments and, where appropriate, the need to make a claim each year, we run an extensive advertising campaign and series of press releases in regional and national newspapers. We also make reference to winter fuel payments in government leaflets. The claim form is available on the Pension Service website, with full details available on the Direct Gov internet site.

It is therefore not possible to say how many people may be eligible for a winter fuel payment and are not receiving it. We can only assess eligibility for those people who are in contact with the Department and whose circumstances are known to us.

In winter 2006-07, the last year for which figures are available, 16,720 people in the Newport, West constituency received a winter fuel payment.