7 March 2013
Could you save £170?
Baroness Verma, an energy minister, is considering plans put forward by Lord Wigley to pay the winter fuel allowance early so as to give recipients more time to budget their fuel expenditure and benefit from cheaper deals.
This move would benefit more than 1 million pensioners who live in the countryside and other areas where they have to buy their own oil or gas to power their homes.
The average household bill is now more than £1,400 following a series of increases by fuel companies in recent months. The prices have risen by almost 20% in the past 4 years.
Caroline Flint, shadow energy secretary, said, “It is time for a complete overhaul of our energy market. People will not understand why, just a few months ago, British Gas claimed they had no option but to put up their prices when now it looks like they’re making huge profits on the back of spiralling bills for hard-pressed consumers.”
For those over the age of 60 the winter fuel payment is worth £200, increasing to £300 when you reach 80. Figures show that 15% of households are not on the gas grid, so need to purchase fuel themselves. It was found that a typical rural household could save £170 if heating oil was bought in June 2010 compared to January 2011.
Lord Wigley said, “There are two basic reasons for early fuel allowance payment. The first is
that you can of course have cold snaps in the year before the winter fuel payment becomes available. But more generally the pattern of prices seems to go up in winter when people are buying in more.”
Paul Green, of the over-50s group Saga, said of the proposal, “This idea would be warmly welcomed given the huge seasonal variations in oil and gas costs. Rural pensioners need a fair deal.”