HC Deb 12 January 1998 vol 304 cc44-5W
Mrs. Gillan

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when pensioner households will receive the £20 fuel supplement; and if she will make a statement. [22731]

Mr. Denham

Following the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 25 November 1997,Official Report, columns 773–98, that extra help was being given to pensioners towards their winter fuel bills for this winter and next, a further announcement was made on 5 January. Regulations were laid before the House on 8 January and will come into effect on 16 January. The announcement will be quickly followed by a publicity campaign involving media advertising, posters and leaflets, in conjunction with Help The Aged, Age Concern and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. The publicity will ensure that pensioners are aware of what payments they will be receiving, as well as how and when it will be paid. This will enable those entitled to a payment to plan with confidence and turn up their heating knowing that a payment will be made.

The additional help of £400 million over this winter and next demonstrates the Government's commitment to help the elderly keep warm in their homes. Payments will be made automatically without the need to claim.

Priority is being given to making payments to the poorest pensioners; those who receive Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. They will be entitled to a payment of £50 which should be made by the end of January.

Other eligible pensioners will receive a payment of £20 or £10. Where there is only one eligible person in a household, or the eligible person is of no fixed abode, they will receive £20; otherwise, each person will receive £10. If someone receives a £10 payment but there is no other eligible pensioner in the household, they will be able to contact the Department for the additional £10. It is estimated that over three million eligible pensioners will receive a payment for £20 and almost five million will receive £10.

Overall, almost 10 million payments will be made to over seven million pensioner households. This programme means that the great majority of payments will be sent by the end of March.