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Winter Fuel Payments

Volume 515: debated on Wednesday 8 September 2010

5. What recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues on the future of winter fuel payments to people in Wales. (13137)

Winter fuel payments provide assurance to older people that they can keep warm during the colder winter months by providing significant help with fuel bills. As announced in the Budget, winter fuel payments will continue to be paid for 2010-11, which will benefit some 680,000 people in approximately 494,000 households in Wales.

I wish to put to the Minister a question that was raised in a meeting of the over-50s group in my constituency last week. The Prime Minister gave assurances about safeguarding benefits for the elderly and the winter fuel payment during the election, but we now hear rumours that the qualifying age may be increasing from 60 to 66, or possibly more, and that the basic winter fuel payment could be cut by £50 for new recipients or £100 for the oldest. What merit should we give to those statements that were made during the election?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the coalition agreement makes it clear that the Government intend to protect the winter fuel payment. It is clear that the age at which both men and women get winter fuel payments will move in step with the equalisation in entitlement to the state pension, but I reiterate that the coalition agreement makes it clear that we intend to protect that payment.