HC Deb 24 January 2000 vol 343 cc80-1W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent arrangements he has put in place to advertise the winter fuel payments for the elderly; and what percentage of those entitled to the payment have received it in the last three months. [106045]

Angela Eagle

A leaflet-based information campaign began in the autumn to inform and reassure those eligible of how and when payments for this winter would be made. National and regional press advertising also took place before Christmas to inform eligible pensioners that payments were currently being made, and provided information on what to do if they had not yet received a payment. An estimated 98 per cent. of those entitled have received their payments.

Dr. Brand

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when Benefits Agency offices will be instructed to pay heating allowance to men aged over 60 years. [106178]

Angela Eagle

Winter Fuel Payments have always been available to men aged 60 and over who are in receipt of Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and their benefit includes a pensioner premium.

Payments due to people aged 60 and over who are newly eligible to Winter Fuel Payments because of the recent European Court of Justice ruling, will be made as soon as possible.

To ensure these payments are made correctly, it will be necessary to determine the names and addresses of those people who are newly eligible.

We will be able to identify some people through current Departmental records. However, the majority may have had no need to contact the Department for a long period and the information we hold may not be up to date. Therefore, we will need to introduce a claims process to determine their precise entitlement.

This process will need to be developed carefully. The Benefits Agency is currently working on this and other operational issues to determine the best way to deliver the payments.

An announcement will be made as soon as possible once our plans are further advanced.