HC Deb 24 April 1998 vol 310 cc727-8W
Mr. Duncan Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which Minister took the final decision to proceed with the advertising campaign for the winter fuel payments. [39716]

Mr. Denham

The advertising campaign for Winter Fuel Payments was approved by Ministers in the normal way. We were determined that pensioners should not be fearful of turning up their heating if a cold spell occurred. We also considered it important that pensioners knew as quickly as possible how much they would receive, as well as how and when it would be paid.

We explored the simplest and most cost-effective ways to let them know that a payment would be made. A publicity strategy was developed, which took account of views expressed by three of the pensioner welfare organisations, on the most effective ways to get the necessary information to as many of the eligible pensioners as possible. We found that a multi-media package, costing an estimated £1.7 million, was likely to reach and inform around 80 per cent. of the ten million eligible pensioners. In approving the package, I considered the cost reasonable, given that this was an unprecedented exercise providing help to over seven million pensioner households, at a total cost of £400 million over two years.

Following the announcement of the detail of the scheme in January, a campaign was swiftly launched in conjunction with Help the Aged, Age Concern and the National Association of Citizen's Advice Bureaux. It included advertisements in the press and on television, leaflets, posters and a dedicated telephone Helpline.

All work test—total
Quarter 31 December 1996 31 March 1997 30 June 1997 30 September 1997
1. Total Number 13,958 13,307 17,382 16,950
In appellants favour Number 6,459 6,003 7,543 6,641
Per cent. 46.27 45.11 43.40 39.18
2. Total Number 4,885 4,513 5,467 4,734
In appellants favour Number 2,499 2,297 2,844 2,419
Per cent. 51.16 50.90 52.02 51.10
3. Total Number 244 229 302 279
In appellants favour Number 125 121 145 111
Per cent. 51.23 52.84 48.01 39.78
4. Total Number 5,181 4,937 5,863 4,875
In appellants favour Number 3,502 3,247 3,934 3,346
Per cent. 67.59 65.77 67.10 68.64
5. Total Number 3,648 3,628 5,750 7,062
In appellants favour Number 333 338 620 765
Per cent. 9.13 9.32 10.78 10.83


  1. 1. Total appeals heard.
  2. 2. Appellant only attended.
  3. 3. Representative only attended.
  4. 4. Both attended.
  5. 5. Not attended.


The quarterly Social Security Appeal Tribunal statistics published by DSS Analytical Services Division.

The publicity ran for three months and enabled pensioners to turn up their heating, confident that a payment would be made. The Helpline is still available.

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