HC Deb 27 March 2003 vol 402 cc369-70W
Nick Harvey

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many older people live in fuel poverty. 1104455].

Mr. McCartney

The English House Condition Survey of 2001 shows that between 1996 and 2001 the number of households with at least one person over age 60 in fuel poverty, after taking all income into account, fell by over 50 per cent. The figures fell from just over two million to around 940,000.

This change is due to a number of measures introduced by this Government including changes in income, lower fuel prices and installation of energy efficiency measures.

The minimum income guarantee, introduced in April 1999, has boosted the income of the poorest pensioners and means that, from April, no single pensioner will need to live on less than £102.10 a week (£155.80 for couples). In 2003–04, the Government will spend an extra £7.5 billion a year on pensioners as a result of policies introduced since 1997. This includes £3.5 billion more on the poorest third of pensioners—almost six times more than an earnings-link in the basic state pension since 1998 would have given them.

Most people aged 60 and over are entitled to a winter fuel payment of up to £200. More than 11 million people aged 60 and over receive payments, totalling £1.7 billion.

Overall, prices for all fuel and light for domestic customers fell by 13 per cent in real terms between 1997 and 2002.

VAT on fuel was reduced shortly after we came to office.

We will consider the introduction of specific procedures within the context of the review of employers' liability compulsory insurance.