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Winter Fuel Allowance

Below is a question I put to the Department of Energy and Climate Change during Topical Questions on 5 March about the Winter Fual Allowance and the Warm Front Scheme.

My point was that, although the Winter Fuel Allowance has no doubt been helpful to many people, it is not very well targetted.  The Government should be careful with these types of benefits in order to ensure that they go to people who really need them.

The Warm Front Scheme, on the other hand, is much more effective at helping the least well off.  Furthermore, rather than just giving money to people as the Winter Fuel Allowance does, the Warm Front Scheme encourages a more sustainable future and gives longterm help to people.

Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Ministers will be aware that millions of households living in fuel poverty also live in homes that have poor energy efficiency. Yet even with the recent increase, the Warm Front programme is spending only £380 million a year. Seven times that amount is being spent on the winter fuel allowance—£2.7 billion this year—yet that takes only 100,000 people out of fuel poverty. Will Ministers have urgent discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in advance of the Budget to see how that largesse can be better focused?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Joan Ruddock): The brief answer is that of course we are always in discussions with the Treasury, and as I have indicated already, because of the economic situation, the high fuel prices that have occurred and the need to move forward with our renewables obligations, we will have to examine our fuel strategy in the broadest sense. That is under way already, and I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that we will have cause to take account of what she has said.

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