No winter fuel payment at 60

Older person with heaters on streetPA

The winter fuel payment has been under pressure for being too generous. There are people who complain that regardless of your level of wealth you receive the payment to help with your bills once you are over 60 - leaving the Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney qualifying for the payment.

However, there are plenty of people who would disagree: including those people who are 60 but who don't qualify.

Rising age threshold

The problem is that the government is gradually increasing the age that people qualify for the payment from 60 to 65. It started raising the age in 2010 and should be finished by 2020. The plan is for it then to be in line with the state pension age - which makes some sense.

However, it means this winter you may well be 60, and get no payment at all. In fact you need to have been born on or before January 5 1951. If your birthday falls the right side of this line you will get between £100 and £300 depending on your age. If you fall just one day on the wrong side of the line you will receive nothing.

Life-or-death

The winter fuel payment won't keep you toasty year-round, given that the average duel fuel bill for the year is close to £1,300. However, it will help keep the worst of the winter freeze at bay for those who are really struggling. And for many, this is a life-or-death payment. Some nine people died every hour of cold last winter.

It's galling for those who are missing out by perhaps just a few days, while they see the payments handed out like sweets to those who are a couple of weeks older - even if they have no difficulty at all in paying the bills.

What can you do?

Sadly there's very little you can do in order to challenge the payments. You will need to talk to your supplier about schemes for those struggling to heat their homes. Failing that it is worth approaching charities such as Saga for where to get help in paying the bills.

If you qualify but don't receive a payment, you may need to claim on direct.gov.uk.

And if you receive the payment but don't have any need for it, you could join the Saga Fuelanthropy campaign. The idea is to donate a payment that is not needed (or indeed any part of the payment) to the Community Foundation Network through Saga which will then be used to help older people struggling with the cold.
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