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Winter Fuel Payments

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the number of overpayments made by the Winter Fuel Payment Centre in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (248818)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the reasons for variations in levels of overpayment of the winter fuel payment in each of the last 10 years. (262338)

Winter fuel payments are made to customers aged 60 and over and are based on their personal circumstances in the qualifying week. Any overpayment of winter fuel payment is recoverable if it arose in consequence of a misrepresentation of, or failure to disclose a material fact.

There are variations in the levels of winter fuel overpayments which have been recorded over the last five years. Of £886,855 winter fuel overpayments in 2007-08 a total of £403,568 related to overpayments from October 2005 to March 2007. This is because the recoveries for this period were recorded on an interim Overpayment Recovery System which were then migrated and brought to account on the Debt Manager System in December 2007 and appear in the figure for 2007-08. Calculation and recovery action was pursued on all cases in accordance with the Overpayments Recovery Guide.

Information is not available to enable an assessment of the reasons for any variations in levels of winter fuel payments for the period beyond the last five years.