MP raises pensioner winter fuel payment debacle

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, is calling upon the UK Government to urgently review the computer system which allocates winter fuel payments to pensioners.

A recent constituency case raised with Ms Thewliss suggests that pensioners living in properties, such as tenements and tower blocks, are losing out because the system is – wrongly – factoring in other people in the building when calculating the total winter fuel payment due.

In Ms Thewliss’ constituent’s case, this resulted in one pensioner only receiving half of his winter fuel payment because the system, wrongly, counted other residents in his close when, in fact, the constituent in question lives on his own. Rather than receiving the £200 payment, he only received half, which was eventually rectified following his MP’s intervention.

The Glasgow Central MP has written to Work & Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to ask for a full investigation into the system.

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, said:

“My constituent’s case highlights a serious anomaly within the UK Government’s winter fuel payment scheme, whereby potentially thousands of pensioners are being underpaid their winter fuel payments. All of this is because the Government’s system doesn’t always recognise buildings with multiple flats. I’ve written to Iain Duncan Smith to ask for a full investigation into this issue and to specifically ask for an urgent review of the payment system which seems to discriminate against buildings with more than one residence.

“My own research shows that Glasgow alone has over 220,000 properties which comprise of flats, tenements and tower blocks. In my own constituency, over 45,000 properties are part of multi-dwelling properties. Now, of course, not all of those properties will be entitled to winter fuel payments but it does give you an idea of the scale of this problem in a city which is, after all, renowned for its red sandstone tenements.

“Figures from Age UK show that an eye watering £3.7 billion in benefits already goes unclaimed by elderly people in the UK and I’m concerned that this is another example of older people not getting what they’re due.

“As temperatures continue to plummet this January, we simply cannot continue on with the perverse scenario, whereby pensioners living in flats are possibly being undercut because of an anomaly in the DWP’s payment system.”

2 thoughts on “MP raises pensioner winter fuel payment debacle

  1. Read with interest the winter fuel payments problems which affect pensioners who DWP hold incorrect details for In my case DWP started to correspond with me at my previous address when I became of state pension age despite having paid previous years payments correctly at my current address in November 2013/14/15 after being informed by letter when payment would be made

    My main concern was that once they were made aware of the underpayment I was advised that no clerical action to pay the balance would even begin until at least Jan 2017
    At the lifestyle and budgeting level this is more than inconvenient as the energy companies won’t want to hear of the circumstances that may put my account in arrears so like many people the heating will be have to be used sparingly………….

    My comments are not for any action on my behalf but just to increase your knowledge bank……..
    I will get through… but wonder how others cope with a system that can make simple errors that have this level of consequence……
    Happy New year…..to you and yours

  2. Update as at 18/01/2017
    By Clive

    After telephone contact with DWP no one is able to tell me a time scale for the payment to address my underpayment…..They confirm that they are now using the correct details and a payment will be made but will only say it will be before the end of March 2017!!!!!!!

    Comment: As usual “Their error” but I suffer………

    Expedite sooner rather than later seem a concept that their system is incapable of……
    I don’t want special treatment I just want to be a bit warmer in winter rather than Spring time.

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