HC Deb 28 June 2001 vol 370 c157W
Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set out his strategy for identifying those who have failed to claim their entitlement for Winter Fuel Payments in the winters of(a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99 and (c) 1999–2000; and if he will set out the reasons for which a deadline was applied to claims for winter 2000–01. [1158]

Mr. McCartney

An information campaign, beginning in April 2000, aimed to ensure that existing and potential customers were aware of the changes to the scheme and what, if any, action was required. It has included: advertisements in national and local press; a leaflet and poster, made available in a variety of venues, including local social security offices, post offices, supermarkets and doctors' surgeries; a dedicated Winter Fuel Payment Helpline; and information on the internet. A mailshot was also undertaken, beginning in early May 2000, to people we could identify as being newly eligible, with an invitation to make a claim.

The deadline imposed for winter 2000 payments allowed a period for claiming of almost a year from when the information campaign began, it is not unreasonable to assume that those who want to claim have claimed.

Legislation covering Winter Fuel Payments states that for winter 2000–01 claims had to be made before 31 March 2001. This does not apply to the retrospective years 1997–98, 1998–99,1999–2000.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the value of unclaimed Winter Fuel Payments for the winter of 2000–01 and the number of entitled recipients who failed to claim their entitlement by the 31 March deadline. [1159]

Mr. McCartney

We received and paid around 1.3 million Winter Fuel Payment claims for last winter. We estimated that up to 1.5 million people could have been eligible who would need to claim. Because this figure is an estimate, it is not possible to provide a reliable figure of either the value of unclaimed payments, or of those who did not claim.

Overall, including those made automatically, over 11 million payments were made last winter.

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