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Residents of Northampton face winter fuel payment wipe out

January 19, 2008 8:00 PM

Gas BurnerLiberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Northampton North, Andrew Simpson, is calling on the Government to protect pensioners in Northampton from energy price rises. He made the call after figures released 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 Andrew Simpson

"There are, according to the last census, approximately 34,000 pensioners in Northampton (Northampton North & South Constituencies). The recent fuel cost rises will put them in 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."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Figures on fuel costs provided by House of Commons Library

Estimated annual average domestic fuel bills

2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 Nov 2007 Post 'Npower' price increases

Household reference person aged 65-74

Gas (on gas CH) £360 £410 £560 £530 £620

Electricity £280 £310 £390 £390 £440

Household reference person aged 75+

Gas (on gas CH) £290 £330 £450 £420 £490

Electricity £270 £300 £370 £370 £420

Population figures for 'Pensionable age' taken from the 2001 census by constituency is available: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/pc_report_part1.pdf