Winter Fuel Payments: Disability
Work and Pensions
Jonathan Edwards (Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Wales); Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru)
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has made an estimate of the cost of extending eligibility for winter fuel payments to those severely disabled people in receipt of higher rate of mobility and core elements of disability living allowance.
Steve Webb (The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions; Thornbury and Yate, Liberal Democrat)
Winter fuel payments are made to most people who have reached women's state pension age, including those who are severely disabled. Older people are targeted because they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather during the winter months.
Disability living allowance is specifically designed to help meet the extra costs of disability, including heating.
Based on the latest available caseload figures, the estimated annual cost increase in benefit expenditure were winter fuel payments to be extended to people receiving the higher rate mobility component or higher rate care component of disability living allowance would be approximately £250 million for winter 2010-11 (in 2010-11 prices), based on a £250 payment.
This is an upper estimate for the cost of extending winter fuel payments to this group as it includes those customers who may be living in a household that already receives a winter fuel payment. It is not possible to identify disability living allowance customers who would not be entitled to a winter fuel payment because they are living in households that already receive a winter fuel payment.
Additional help is available to severely disabled people through the disability premiums that are included in income-related benefits, such as income support, council tax benefit, housing benefit and pension credit. A combination of these premiums and the support received through disability living allowance means that the most vulnerable people can receive up to an approximate £8,000 per year in recognition of their extra costs.