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£50million in winter fuel payments goes out to 300,000 people across Northern Ireland

More than 50million in winter fuel payments has been paid to 318,000 people across Northern Ireland.
Thursday, 20 December 2012

Winter fuel payments are issued annually to older people to help with heating bills and those qualifying could get up to £300.

Most households with someone born on or before 5 July 1951 are eligible for £200 towards their winter fuel bills. Households with someone aged 80 and over will receive £300.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland is encouraging those who have not received a payment and thinks they may be eligible to call the helpline:

He said: “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 that 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 haven’t yet claimed, can still download a form online at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment-claim-form.pdf or call the helpline on 0845 9151 515, (0845 601 5613 for textphone users).

Claims must be received no later than 31 March 2013.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Winter Fuel Payments scheme was introduced in January 1998 to help alleviate fuel poverty by providing help specifically to older people towards their winter fuel bills.
  2. A Winter Fuel Payment is paid to eligible customers each winter to provide help with fuel bills. This year customers are eligible if they were born on or before 5 July 1951 and are ordinarily resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland for at least 1 day in the qualifying week of 17- 23 September 2012.
  3. Customers who are resident in a European Economic Area outside the United Kingdom who acquired entitlement to a United Kingdom Winter Fuel Payment prior to moving, retain their entitlement.
  4. Winter Fuel Payments are paid automatically from the customer’s Benefit System. The Winter Fuel Payment System will also issue automatic payments to customers who have made a successful claim in previous years and who are not in receipt of any of the qualifying benefits that facilitate payment.
  5. The qualifying benefits are Income Support, State Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, State Pension, Widows Benefit, Bereavement Benefit, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefits and War Pensions.
  6. 318,472 payments totalling £52.5million were released between the 3 November and the 18 November 2012 with payments crediting to customers accounts by 27 November. The specific release dates were determined by the benefit the customer is entitled to.
  7. Winter Fuel payments are £200 to those who live alone and £300 if you are aged over 80. If there is more than one eligible customer in the household the payment is split between them.
  8. A small number of customers will not be in receipt of any of the benefits outlined above, not have applied for a Winter Fuel Payment before and have reached the age where they now qualify. These customers will have to apply for a Winter Fuel Payment and therefore must complete a claim form and send this to the to the Winter Fuel Payment Centre in Newcastle Upon Tyne for processing before the closing date of 31 March 2013.
  9. News Media enquiries to DSD Communications Team on 028 9082 9096. Out of Office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.