HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 cc763-4W
Alan Simpson

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate his Department's expenditure on winter fuel payments over the last five years; and what money was made available for investment in programmes to achieve affordable warmth over the same period. [123490]

Malcolm Wicks

The information is in the table.

Expenditure on Winter Fuel Payments in Great Britain over the past five years
£ million (cash)
Winter Expenditure
1998–99 194
1999–2000 759
2000–01 1,749
2001–02 1,692
2002–03 1,712

The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy sets out a wide range of programmes to contribute to tackling fuel poverty by improving the comfort of vulnerable households. These include Warm Front and the Energy Efficiency Commitment 2002–05 under which energy suppliers must focus 50 per cent. of their energy saving target on low-income families.

In England, the main Government expenditure is through the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, now marketed as Warm Front. It is estimated that from April 1998 to March 2003, approximately £577 million has been spent on Warm Front grants. Similar schemes operate in Scotland and Wales.

Alan Simpson

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of extending the winter fuel payment to the poorest and most vulnerable households who qualify for cold weather payments; and whether his Department plans such a measure. [123491]

Malcolm Wicks

Most people receiving income support including minimum income guarantee or income-based jobseeker's allowance who are aged 60 or over already receive winter fuel payments.

If winter fuel payments were extended to other people who meet the criteria for cold weather payments, regardless of whether the temperature fell low enough to trigger payment of a cold weather payment to that household, the additional annual cost would be around £300 million.

We have no plans to extend the winter fuel payment scheme.


Figure rounded to nearest £50 million and calculated from administrative data.

Alan Simpson

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to transform the winter fuel payments into a universal benefit; and if he will make a statement. [123493]

Malcolm Wicks

The winter fuel payment scheme was introduced to help the most vulnerable older people meet their heating costs during the winter months. The payments are already available to almost all people aged 60 or over.