WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS FOR ALL PENSIONERS

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Conference
2009 Retired Members' Conference
Date
23 June 2009
Decision

Conference notes that around 20,000 pensioners die every year from cold-related illnesses, with 90% of excess winter deaths affecting the over 65s. To help combat this, 2.9 million pensioners receive winter fuel payments, currently worth £250 for over 60s or £400 for over 80s.

Conference will be aware that UNISON believes the current winter fuel payment to be inadequate as illustrated by the fact that it now covers just a fifth of the average bill, compared to a third when it was first introduced.

However at a time when it is being predicted that average household fuel bills could reach £4700 by 2020, the Environment & Rural Affairs Select Committee is proposing that the winter fuel payment should be made taxable and stopped altogether for 200,000 pensioners. Michael Jack MP, chair of the Committee claims this would save £250 million a year which could be targeted at poorer pensioners.

Conference believes that the means testing of winter fuel payment will deter millions of pensioners from applying and could leave some of the most vulnerable households. Winter fuel payments should remain universal to ensure that the much-needed cash reaches all pensioners who need it.

Therefore Conference requests that the National Retired Members’ Committee work with the National Executive Council, the National Right to Fuel Campaign, National Energy Action and other relevant campaigning organisations as appropriate to call upon the government through all appropriate channels to abandon the proposal to apply means-testing to the winter fuel payment.