Lianne Lodge addresses the rise in Winter Fuel Payments for expats.
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associate at Pagan Osborne and Member of Solicitors for the Elderly, writes:
I write in response to news that Winter Fuel Payments to those living abroad had doubled in just five years.
The Winter Fuel Payment is a universal credit, any British citizen aged 60 and over is entitled to it whether they live abroad, are well off or still working. So while the indicated £5m will be given to those living in the sunshine; two-thirds of older people living in this country are living in ‘fuel poverty’.
There is a fundamental issue with this payment. The amount has been slashed by £50 for people aged 60-79 and by £100 for those aged 80 and over. This cut might not have much of an effect on those older people who live abroad, are well off or still working but it will have an undoubted significant impact on the most vulnerable in society who have faced an unprecedented soar in the fuel bills as well general increased costs in living.
What we need is a common-sense approach to how we can deliver more with a constrained budget, ensuring the most vulnerable society are not literally left out in the cold this winter.
With an ever-ageing population and strain on the public purse, this is not an issue that will simply go away. In 2009, 2,700 older people died of cold-related illnesses. With another chilly winter ahead of us then the time to act is now and we need to ensure those who need it are being offered real support so they don’t have to choose between heating and eating this winter.
Associate, Pagan Osborne and Member of Solicitors for the Elderly
Queen Street, Edinburgh