Pensioners warn over cuts to fuel allowance

LOWERING the winter fuel allowance will leave older people choosing between eating and heating, Rotherham Pensioners’ Action Group has warned.

Last winter, high fuel prices led to the Government raising payments by £50 for over-60s and £100 for over-80s.

RPAG chairman Keith Billington said: “It appears from some reports that the Government may reduce the amounts which were paid last winter back from £250 to £200 and from £400 to £300.

“Given that fuel prices have not decreased very much, it could again put some very vulnerable pensioners in the position of having to choose between keeping warm or eating.”

An early day motion has been tabled by Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins, and RPAG has asked John Healey, Denis MacShane and Kevin Barron to support it.

The motion notes the adverse impact rising bills are likely to have on the ability of pensioners to keep warm and healthy this winter.

It asks the Government to support the call from the National Pensioners' Convention to maintain the fuel payment at its current, higher level.

It adds: “Although fuel prices have gone down slightly, they are still considerably higher than before, and if we get another really cold winter then the death rate could be even higher.

“For some pensioners the choice may be between eating or heating. This is surely not acceptable in the 21st century in a civilised country.”

Department of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been told to identify budget savings.

One possibility raised so far is to raise the qualification age to 75, bringing the payments in line with when free TV licences are issued. Another is to only target the worst-off residents over 60.