Covid: Winter fuel payment should be extended, MP says

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image captionOlder people can claim £300 to help with winter fuel bills

More people must be eligible for winter fuel payment to prevent "the worst fuel poverty crisis in a generation," a Plaid Cymru MP has warned.

Hywel Williams is calling for the UK government to expand eligibility in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Existing rules mean only people born on or before 5 October 1954 can receive the payment, worth up to £300.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the secretary of state would respond "in due course".

In his letter to Thérèse Coffey, Mr Williams calls for the winter fuel payment to be made available to:

  • Families receiving child benefit
  • People receiving universal credit
  • Disabled people who are entitled to disability benefits
  • People earning less than 60% of the UK median wage

"I am writing to urge you to significantly expand accessibility to the winter fuel payment to prevent what could be the worst fuel poverty crisis in a generation," the Arfon MP writes.

"With the overarching threat of the pandemic it is the responsibility of the government to ensure people can afford to stay warm this winter."

"We know that cold and damp homes will put those most vulnerable to Covid-19, including older people and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, at an increased risk of the virus," he added.

A Senedd report published earlier this year said 155,000 households in Wales, about 12% of the total, were "fuel poor".

People on universal credit can already claim a cold weather payment of £25 for each seven day period of "very cold weather".

People on a low income may also be able to get help with their electricity bill through the warm home discount scheme.

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