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Welfare and Pensions Welfare and Pensions

Means-test Winter Fuel Payments

Last updated: 03:44pm 5 March 2019

So we will means-test Winter Fuel Payments, focusing assistance on the least well-off pensioners, who are most at risk of fuel poverty.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.66

Our verdict

The Winter Fuel Payment is a lump sum available to people aged 64 or over. It’s £200 per eligible household, and £300 if you are aged 80 or over. Whether you are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment is not based on your ability to pay (‘means-tested’), and this is what the government has proposed to change. In 2017-18 there were 11.9 million people were expected to receive it, at an estimated cost of £2 billion. This policy was put forward in the manifesto as a way to help fund the growing cost of care (see this policy).

However, you may remember that the Conservative Party entered into an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This was in order to make their combined number of MPs more than half of the total in Parliament. Well, in making that agreement there were a few concessions made, one of which was that there would be no change to “the universal nature of the Winter Fuel Payment.” In other words, it will not be means-tested and will remain available to anyone eligible, regardless of how well-off they are.

Interesting stuff, and given this is an official agreement made after the election, we can therefore consider this manifesto promise ‘broken’.

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