HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 cc591-2W
Mr. Gibb

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what reason the £100 winter allowance will not be paid through the basic state pension; and what is the additional cost of paying it separately. [80853]

Angela Eagle

We are committed to alleviating fuel poverty amongst the elderly of this country, and to enabling all pensioners to share in its increasing prosperity. To help meet these objectives we have increased the Winter Fuel Payment fivefold for eligible pensioner households. It is also why, for this coming winter, we will make all payments before Christmas.

Paying the Winter Fuel Payment through the same vehicle as Retirement Pension would not be straightforward. This is because they are designed to serve different purposes. The Winter Fuel Payment is intended to help each eligible household with the cost of its fuel bills. In order to do so, it takes into account household composition to provide an overall payment of £100 to each eligible household, rather than each individual pensioner within it. Retirement Pension is designed to provide each individual pensioner with regular income. In order to do this, payments are based only on individual entitlements, regardless of household circumstances.