MSE News: Winter fuel payments cut in secret Budget measure

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This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:

"The elderly are set for a shock later this year as they will get up to £100 less from the Government to pay for energy."
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  • KxMx
    KxMx Posts: 10,605 Forumite
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    edited 24 March 2011 at 11:52AM
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    Not that much of a shock- these exact cuts were floated as a serious option (if not a fact) last year, I remember reading about them.

    Edited to add:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/7951203/Winter-fuel-payment-cuts-to-hit-millions-of-pensioners.html
    The basic winter fuel payment, made to more than 12 million people, will also be cut by £50 for new recipients and £100 for the oldest
    August 2010.

    http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/bargains-and-rip-offs/household-bills/article.html?in_article_id=516984&in_page_id=510
    October 2010
  • michaels
    michaels Posts: 28,004 Forumite
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    edited 26 March 2011 at 11:52PM
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    OK - so now if you announce something will be extended for one year you also need to announce that it won't be extended again when that year expires? We have become such a nation of 'entitlement' junkies that we complain when a one-off (in this case introduced for electoral reasons by the outgoing labour govt) is withdrawn.

    I know several 'retired' who complain that the winter fuel allowance isn't enough to pay the entire cost of heating the swimming pool during the summer heating season...
    I think....
  • jamesd
    jamesd Posts: 26,103 Forumite
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    For some reason I don't think we'll have near record low temperatures again next winter. If we do, there can be another temporary increase like the last ones. there's no need for these things to be fixed when weather varies. Predictability is good, though.
  • datostar
    datostar Posts: 1,288 Forumite
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    As Ros Altmann of Saga has suggested, put the Winter Fuel Allowance into the basic pension. That way, the non-taxpaying over 60s keep the lot and the presumably better off taxpayers pay some back in tax. Surely a fairer way?
  • ALIBOBSY
    ALIBOBSY Posts: 4,527 Forumite
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    edited 24 March 2011 at 12:06PM
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    My understanding is they were only ever given as a temp top up, so suspect whichever party got in the "extra" was on the way out. The reality is alot of pensioners don't need the cash (my parents admit its nice and helpful, but they wouldn't switch the heating off just because it was cut or reduced).

    Should be more targeted to the elderly who are on low incomes and really struggling. Long term make more sense to scrap the payment and increase pensions overall, pensioners need looking after all year around. Perhaps a better system would be over 80s can register to claim back (or better still not be charged) VAT on their fuel charges?

    ali x

    OOPs most of you are much faster typers than I. I agree with the others, much better to increase the basic pension. Tax payers will pay some back in tax and non tax payers will cop the lot. I also think a better system for pensioners would be for council tax to be an added percentage on income tax, this would mean what you paid was inline with your income, plus easier to administrate.
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

  • glider3560
    glider3560 Posts: 4,115 Forumite
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    I think the biggest change we need to Winter Fuel Allowance is that the payments should be made directly to the energy company.

    I live in a road of mainly elderly people. Several of them couldn't afford to pay their fuel bills yet they can afford to pay for Christmas presents, having just used the allowance on presents.

    I've tried to get some of them to switch suppliers, but all (except one) were very stubborn and won't do this. They won't even switch to direct debit* or another tariff with the same supplier.

    * = My reason for suggesting direct debit was because they would pay the same amount every month, which makes budgeting much easier.
  • WestonDave
    WestonDave Posts: 5,154 Forumite
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    Isn't it time we did away with all these silly little allowances, and rolled it all up into one reasonable payment? The admin costs of having winter fuel allowances, cold weather payments, free bus passes must be massive so if they added up the typical direct costs of all of this (i.e. what the bus passes are costing to reimburse the bus companies) and shared it out amongst the relevant benefits or pensions, it would cost the same but save all the admin costs. It would also allow people to make their own choices rather than having patronising dictats from on high about what it should be being used for.

    In terms of this non-cut - given the millions being spent on energy efficiency, and insulation, its only reasonable that at some point payments for fuel allowances take account of the expected savings, otherwise there is no point in doing the insulation etc.

    What will be interesting is how the suggested merging of tax and national insurance will leave pensioners given that at present they pay tax but not NI.
    Adventure before Dementia!
  • SingleSue
    SingleSue Posts: 11,699 Forumite
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    glider3560 wrote: »
    I think the biggest change we need to Winter Fuel Allowance is that the payments should be made directly to the energy company.

    I live in a road of mainly elderly people. Several of them couldn't afford to pay their fuel bills yet they can afford to pay for Christmas presents, having just used the allowance on presents.

    I've tried to get some of them to switch suppliers, but all (except one) were very stubborn and won't do this. They won't even switch to direct debit* or another tariff with the same supplier.

    * = My reason for suggesting direct debit was because they would pay the same amount every month, which makes budgeting much easier.


    Must be an age thing, my parents won't switch to a monthly direct debit either and still insist on receiving a quarterly bill...and they won't switch suppliers either!

    Their winter fuel payment goes into a savings account until the winter gas bill arrives and then they pay it off, so in their case, it is actually used for what it is intended for. ...mind you, they could turn their heating down a little, it's like a sauna in their house in the winter, we arrive in jumpers and coats and within 5 minutes, we are all sitting there in T shirts!
    We made it! All three boys have graduated, it's been hard work but it shows there is a possibility of a chance of normal (ish) life after a diagnosis (or two) of ASD. It's not been the easiest route but I am so glad I ignored everything and everyone and did my own therapies with them.
    Eldests' EDS diagnosis 4.5.10, mine 13.1.11 eekk - now having fun and games as a wheelchair user.
  • seven-day-weekend
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    I think the title of this thread is a little confrontational. There is nothing 'secret' about it. The increase was only a temporary measure.

    Please MSE, don't join the ranks of the conspiracy theorists on here!
    (AKA HRH_MUngo)
    Member #10 of £2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
  • clemmatis
    clemmatis Posts: 3,168 Forumite
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    SingleSue wrote: »
    Must be an age thing, my parents won't switch to a monthly direct debit either and still insist on receiving a quarterly bill...and they won't switch suppliers either!

    Their winter fuel payment goes into a savings account until the winter gas bill arrives and then they pay it off, so in their case, it is actually used for what it is intended for. ...mind you, they could turn their heating down a little, it's like a sauna in their house in the winter, we arrive in jumpers and coats and within 5 minutes, we are all sitting there in T shirts!

    My mother, who died at the age of 89 ten years ago, had a monthly DD, it cost her money as they were always overestimating her usage. I am 65, I pay by quarterly direct debit i.e. they get no money from me till a month after I've had the bill. There's enough in my interest-paying current account to meet my bills.

    My mother underheated the house. I keep it comfortably warm.

    How old are you?
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