HC Deb 23 October 2000 vol 355 cc5-6W
Ms Southworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many households will benefit from the winter heating allowance in Warrington, South in 2000. [133752]

Angela Eagle

For winter 1999–2000, 17,061 customers in the Warrington, South constituency qualified for a Winter Fuel Payment of either £100 or £50, dependant on their circumstances. This figure includes those in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits as well as men from age 60 who qualified through receipt of either Income Support or income-based Jobseekers Allowance.

The Winter Fuel Payment scheme has now been extended so that men as well as women will be eligible for a payment from age 60, providing they satisfy the qualifying criteria. The changes apply from the beginning of the scheme in 1997–98 and payments will be made for past winters to customers who are entitled. The majority of the customers who are newly eligible will need to make a claim.

This means that the figure given above in respect of 1999–2000 could be higher for winter 2000. How much higher will depend on the number of people who decide to make a claim and how many are entitled.

Therefore, it is not possible to give a precise number of how many households may benefit from winter fuel allowance until all payments are made on the claims received and through the legacy systems, that is, those people receiving qualifying benefits.