HC Deb 04 March 1997 vol 291 c560W
Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the definition of fuel poverty. [15238]

Mr. Roger Evans

The term fuel poverty has no precise meaning and is not adopted by the Department.

Extra help has been made available through the benefit scale rates and premiums—which includes help with payment of VAT on fuel—and is worth around £1.4 billion a year to low-income families with children and £1.1 billion a year to poorer pensioners. Cold weather payments, which provide help to those most in need during periods of exceptional cold weather, the home energy efficiency scheme and the direct payments scheme, which plays an important role in protecting benefit recipients who might otherwise be at risk of having fuel or water supply disconnected, are further examples of our commitment to helping the most vulnerable.

Fuel bills have fallen by more than 1 per cent. in real terms over the last two years, while the main income-related benefit rates have continued to be increased in line with inflation.