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.”