Bob Ainsworth is concerned by official statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions which show that the total number of Winter Fuel Payment recipients in Coventry and the West Midlands fell significantly in 2011-12.
The figures, which emerged in response to a parliamentary question asked by Bob, show that the number of Winter Fuel Payment recipients plummeted between 2010-11 and 2011-12 by 290 in Coventry North East constituency, by 780 in Coventry Local Authority area and by 9,970 in the West Midlands region.
|Total number of winter fuel payment recipients in Coventry and west midlands|
|Coventry North East constituency||Coventry local authority||West midlands region|
The reduction in last year’s figures occurred as a result of the Government’s decision to raise the Winter Fuel Payment qualifying age in line with the increase in women’s state pension age. This means that fewer people were eligible to receive Winter Fuel Payments than would otherwise have been the case under the old qualifying criteria. This trend looks likely to continue as the Government is gradually raising the qualifying age from 60 to 65.
To qualify this winter (2012-13), people must be born on or before 5 July 1951. Qualifying dates for the next two winters are:
Winter Born on or before
2013/14 5 January 1952
2014/15 5 July 1952
“It is extremely disappointing to see such a massive drop in the number of people receiving Winter Fuel Payments as a result of this Government’s actions.
“Not only has the Tory-led Government cut the value of Winter Fuel Payments, they are now making people wait much longer to benefit from these payments.
“With soaring energy bills contributing to a cost of living crisis that is affectingthousands of households in Coventry, it is disappointing that fewer people are benefiting from assistance with their energy bills through Winter Fuel Payments.
“There are already around 26,000 households in Coventry living in fuel poverty and there is a real concern that this number could increase as a result of the change in the qualifying criteria for Winter Fuel Payments”.