Ex-MP Ann Widdecombe on winter fuel allowance donation

The winter fuel allowance costs the Treasury £2.1bn each year. That could be better spent, says the former minister

Related Stories

Daily Politics Soapbox: The former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe - who served as shadow home and health secretaries - thinks better-off pensioners like her should donate their winter fuel payments from the government:

Every winter pensioners die because of the cold.

As the temperature plummets many people will have to choose between eating properly and keeping their houses warm.

And last year as many as 25,000 people are thought to have died from inadequate heating.

Start Quote

There are still millionaires receiving government handouts while thousands of others struggle to stay warm”

End Quote Ann Widdecombe Former MP

There are around 5.5m households living in fuel poverty in the UK - that means they're spending 10% or more of their income on fuel.

The problem has got much worse in recent years because of the rising costs of energy bills.

The Surviving Winter Appeal is calling for people like me who can afford it to donate their winter fuel payment to help vulnerable people affected by fuel poverty.

The £200 allowance goes to all households where one person is older than 60, irrespective of how much money they have. Those aged 80 or older get £300.

So far the campaign has persuaded wealthy individuals to give up more than £2m, enough to help 20,000 poorer pensioners.

Gas ring The winter fuel payments should should go to those who really need it, says the former MP

But there are still millionaires receiving government handouts while thousands of others struggle to stay warm.

David Cameron has promised that he won't touch the winter fuel allowance, and that pledge was included in the coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Some would argue he should break that promise to save part of the £2.1bn the allowance costs HM Treasury every year.

But it would be even better still if the money that goes to well-off pensioners could be spent raising the allowances for those who really need it.

But until that happens we need to encourage as many people as possible to donate the money voluntarily.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Politics stories



  • Firth of Forth bridgeWhat came Firth?

    How the Forth was crossed before the famous bridge

  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?

  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing

  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    The number of old people killing themselves has fallen. Why?

  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.