Government minister meets charity over winter fuel campaign

December 14, 2010 11:57 AM

Julian HuppertLast Wednesday 8th December Government Pensions Minister Steve Webb met with Cambridge MP Julian Huppert and leading disability charity Papworth Trust to discuss the campaign to extend the winter fuel allowance to severely disabled people.

Annual Winter Fuel Payments are currently given to help with heating costs in households which include someone aged 60 or over. Like older people, many disabled people find themselves at home for long periods each day, and need central heating to keep warm. But whereas over 25% of Winter Fuel Payments go to households where the income level is above £30,000 (Reform April 2010), disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people, and often desperately need financial help to pay the heating bills.

Rob, a 49 year old wheelchair-user with MS says "If I don't use the heating my joints get stiff and I find it hard to move around. This winter has been so cold already - I've only just managed to pay off 2009's fuel bill, and I know that this year's will be much higher."

Following Papworth Trust's survey of almost 1,000 people across Britain about winter fuel payments, the Pensions Minister agreed to meet with the charity and MP Julian Huppert, who has supported the campaign since the start, to discuss different possibilities. One idea is to consider whether the proposed reforms to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), announced by the Goverment this week, should include some kind of heating supplement.

Julian Huppert says: "I was pleased that the Minister could find time to discuss this issue which is so vital for severely disabled people.

"The Disability Living Allowance must be reformed to give disabled people help with their heating bills. It is totally unacceptable that they should be worrying about how to heat their homes and could even be forced to consider switching off the heating during this cold winter."

For more details on how Papworth Trust can help you share your story or opinion with the government, please email policy@papworth.org.uk or call 01480 357205.

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