More than 17,000 Uttlesford pensioners claim cash to help heat their homes

An elderly woman reads a book. Inset: There With You This Winter

The number of people claiming winter fuel payments in Uttlesford has fallen by just one percent since 2009/10 - Credit: Thinkstock/Archant

The number of Uttlesford pensioners claiming winter fuel benefits has barely changed since the financial crash era, figures reveal.

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 200 fewer people received a Winter Fuel Payment in 2019/20 compared with the same season in 2009/10 - a decrease of just 1%.

But across Great Britain, the number of residents claiming the payment has steadily decreased by 10% across the same decade.

The figures show that 17,030 Uttlesford residents claimed the payment across the 2019/20 season, down from 17,230 in 2009/10.

Across the decade, the number of residents receiving the payment peaked at 17,790 in 2013/14.

The data was released in September before rising wholesale gas prices in Europe forced some fuel firms to increase their prices or close down entirely.

Since the data was released, the cap on what energy companies can charge for their "default" tariffs rose on October 1 by 12% to £1,277 per year.

The Winter Fuel Payment - a stipend of between £100 and £300 to fund heating bills - can this year be claimed by anyone born on or before September 26, 1955.

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It was introduced in 1997 and the basic payment of £100 - or £200 if you live alone - is not means-tested.

It is used to make sure pensioners do not fall into poverty after paying their housing and heating bills.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "We are committed to supporting low income and vulnerable households to keep warm during the colder months.

"We will continue to provide Winter Fuel Payments to over 11.4 million pensioners at a cost of £2bn annually.

“Our strong package of policies, including Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount Scheme, will deliver to those in need this winter, and beyond.”

According to similar figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 4,026 households in Uttlesford (12%) experienced fuel poverty in 2019.

Across England, this figure stood at an estimated 3.18 million households (13%).

Information on the winter fuel payment is online: https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

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