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Broadland Residents Face Winter Fuel Payment Wipeout

February 5, 2008 5:30 PM

LIBERAL Democrats in Broadland are calling on the Government to protect pensioners in Norfolk from energy price rises. They have made the call after figures showed that recent increases in the cost of electricity and gas are set to wipe out pensioners' winter fuel payment.

Figures received by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library show that since 2004/5, and taking into account recently announced price rises:

· For a typical pensioner household aged 65-74 with gas central heating, gas bills have gone up by £260pa and electricity by £160pa - a total of £420

· For a typical pensioner household aged over 75 gas bills are up £200pa and electricity bills up £150pa - a total of £350

· The value of the Winter Fuel Payment per household for those aged 60-79 is £200, and £300 for those aged over 80

· The £300 rate for the over 80s was introduced in the winter of 2003/04 and hasn't risen since

"Elderly and disabled people are hardest hit by the fuel price hikes, which more than wipe out the value of the Winter Fuel Payment," said April Pond, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Campaigner for Broadland.

"This will leave many residents in Norfolk a financially difficult position.

"The Government must do far more to combat fuel poverty. The top priority must be to end the scandal where pensioners are paying a fortune to heat draughty houses where a lot of the heat is simply wasted. Many older people are currently paying to heat the great outdoors in addition to their own home.

"This is a waste of scarce cash and also makes no sense for the environment.

"In many other European countries with much colder weather, household energy bills are lower because homes are better insulated and heating is more energy-efficient.

"The Government needs to get its act together and make sure that our pensioners don't have to make a choice between heating and eating on cold winter days."