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Cost of Living: Pensioners

Volume 724: debated on Monday 5 December 2022

All pensioner households are in the process of receiving an extra £300 to help them cover the rising cost of energy this winter. For those in receipt of pension credit, the second cost of living payment of £324 was issued in November.

Rural pensioners face additional challenges to the cost of living crisis, and I have recently heard from constituents in the villages of Forton and Winmarleigh who are still waiting for information from the Government on the payment of the alternative fuel payment scheme, as they are off grid. Additionally, the removal of the Bay Plus Megarider bus ticket has increased the price of bus tickets, which may not directly affect those pensioners, but where they are supporting adult children and school-age children in their households, it is impacting on their family budgets. What steps are the Government taking to support pensioners who live in rural parts?

I recognise a lot of the challenges that the hon. Lady mentions, and this is why we are giving pensioners £850, and people on pension credit £1,500, to get through this winter.

I welcome my hon. Friend to her position and I would like to thank her for the answer she has just given us. I wish her well in her job. The Government’s £300 boost to the winter fuel payment will give pensioners vital support this winter, and I know it is much appreciated by my constituents. However, will she join me in encouraging pensioners on low incomes to look into whether they are eligible for pension credit and to submit an application for this additional support as soon as possible?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. He is, as always, absolutely right. I know that he visited Age UK recently and raised these issues. It is vital that any pensioners receiving less than £182.60 a week look into whether they are eligible for pension credit, and if they are, they should try to claim it before 18 December, because the cost of living payment of £324 can be backdated.

Pensioners who have worked hard and saved all their lives face an unprecedented cost of living crisis. Meanwhile, the Government dithered and delayed, but after considerable pressure from the Opposition side of the House, they eventually agreed to increase the state pension to offer some help with fuel bills. However, these delays have left pensioners angry, confused and, as we heard earlier, frustrated. Can the Minister please tell the House how many pensioners will be left freezing and cold with no heating on this winter?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for highlighting the record rise in state pension brought forward by this Government. We are, as ever, on the side of pensioners as we go through this winter, and I would point out that the state pension has doubled from the level we were left by Labour in 2010.