Friday, 21 December 2012

Winter fuel payments

Older preople across Northern Ireland should make sure that they claim for the winter fuel payments to which they are entitled.
More than £50 million has been issued in payments to some 300,000 people across Northern Ireland but older people risk missing out on the payment unless they submit a claim.
Winter feul payments are issued annually to older people to help with heating bills and most households with someone born on or before 5 July 1951 are eligible for £200 towards their winter fuel bills.  Households with some aged 80 and over receive £300.
Some older people may be experiencing difficulty in meeting household bills and this payment will make a considerable difference in times when fuel costs are high.
I would encourage all those who think they may qualify for the payment and have not yet done so to contact the winter fuel payment helpline on 0845 9151 515 to check if they can claim.
New claimants, who have not yet claimed, can still download a form online at or call the helpline on 0845 9151 515 (0845 601 5613 for textphone users.
Claims must be received no later than 31 March 2013.
If you are an older person who has not received your payment please make use of the helpline and likewise if you know any older people who have not received the payment, remind them of the helpline.


  1. Dear Nelson , Thank you for letting us know of our entitlement to &200 Winter fuel allowance, it is a great help to us ; especially in the light of the fact that price increases ( especially of oil ) have just about swallowed it up over the past 2 years ! In 2009 We spent £ 945.85 for the year's heating oil in our rented house . In the last 12 months for the same amount of oil the bill was £1435 for the same quantity . Well might you encourage us to claim this payment !
    Next April , it seems that because our house is deemed too big for us ; we shall receive about £1500 less per year ( or about £25 per week ) in Housing benefit which will indeed be a sore blow . I hope that you are working away at some similarly helpful advice on this matter . My best wishes to you and yours in this coming season of goodwill . Regards . John Butler .

    1. Fuel poverty is a serious issue and there are three factors (1) low income (2) cost of fuel (3)energy efficiency of the home. As regards income we are encouraging benfit uptake because many people are underclaiming. Last year our campaigns brought in £13m of additional benefits, and many of the beneficiaries were senior citizens. The warm homes scheme and boiler replacement are two of the ways we try to improve energy efficiency.

      I have also commissioned research about the best approach to fuel poverty and the people most likely to be affected are young families and senior citizens.

      As regards the under-occupancy issue this is still being worked through and I am continuing to negotiate with Westminster about this to see if can mitigate some of the effects. Earlier this year I commissioned research on housing in Northern Ireland to see how many people would be affected by underoccupancy and it is similar to the level in Wales and parts of the north of England. The information in the study will be useful in the course of the negotiations with Westminster and I continue to argue the case as strongly as possible. In the meantime I have increased the funding for discretionary housing payments. The position regarding underoccupancy will become clearer in the new year.

  2. Thank you for a measured response , no one of my generation enjoys the necessity of claiming any kind of benefit . Indeed if the regulations permitted me , my answer to any reduction in HB would be to seek whatever work my decrepit frame would allow but this would mean forfeiting more than I could earn . In your calculations , it might be worth noting that the costs of removing to a smaller house ( even if one were available )would be around £1000 which is laughably unattainable . Regards , John Butler .

    1. I am exploring every possibility, within the constraints of parity, to ensure that we shape welfare reform to the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.

      There are elements of welfare reform which are positive, such as the concept of universal credit, whereby people are always better off in work than out of work. However many of the changes coming from the Conservative-led coalition government in London are simply about cutting the bill for welfare.

      I can assure you that I and my officials are meeting with a wide range of interest groups eg senior citizens, victims and survivors, and people with disabilities, to hear their concerns, and we are in almost daily contact with the Department for Work and Pensions in London. The next few months, as the Northern Ireland legislation moves forward, will be extremely busy and extremely challenging.


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