Winter Fuel Allowance

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Conference
2011 Retired Members' Conference
Date
17 June 2011
Decision
Carried

Conference notes that eligibility for initial payment of the Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) is dependent upon the claimant reaching state retirement age by the last week in September each year (of particular benefit to those with birthdays between March and September) and that those who reach this milestone in subsequent winter months do not receive their WFA until the following winter.

Conference believes that this arbitrary rule is unfair to those with birthdays between October and February who still have to pay their fuel bills but do not receive the WFA in their first winter in retirement. Many of these pensioners will be living on subsistence incomes or worse, and some will be in receipt of pension credit and may therefore not be able to afford to heat their homes, a frightening prospect given the exceptionally cold weather in the past two winters.

Conference demands that this anomaly is addressed as a matter of urgency and that a new eligibility scheme enabling claims for WFA by all pensioners in their first winter in retirement is introduced. Such a scheme would see those reaching state retirement age by the current cut off date in September (usually those with birthdays between March and September) continue to receive the full WFA in their first winter in retirement. Those whose birthdays fall between October and February would receive a pro rata WFA on a descending scale: 5/6ths in October, 2/3rds in November, ½ in December, 1/3rd in January and 1/6th in February. This would achieve equity for all new pensioners and ensure that every pensioner benefits from payment of the WFA in their first winter in retirement.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

i. Liaise with the National Executive Council and Labour Link about ways of progressing this proposal including working with other relevant organisations where appropriate;

ii. Publicise their support for this scheme in all appropriate publications;

iii. Urge retired members to write their MPs on this issue;

iv. Report back to Retired Members’ Conference 2012.