Pensioners and Winter Fuel Payments

Part of Opposition Day — [12th Allotted Day – Second Part (Half Day)] – in the House of Commons at 5:09 pm on 22nd November 2011.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 5:09 pm, 22nd November 2011

Obviously, the VAT increase does not affect fuel prices directly as they are on a reduced rate, but the hon. Gentleman is right that competition in the energy sector is a key concern of the Government, whether that is in gas, electricity or oil. Our colleagues at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are in regular and close contact with the competition authorities, but one thing the Government are doing is ensuring that people are aware of their ability to switch and get much better tariffs—that is particularly the case with electricity and gas. Clearly, we can do things for the long term, such as sort out the housing stock, but we can also do things for the short term, such as ensure that people get the best price available. There is huge potential to do a lot more that does not necessarily involve hundreds of millions of pounds of Government spending but would benefit people substantially.