I recognise the contribution pensioners have made, and continue to make, to British society. We must ensure that everyone has security and dignity in their retirement. I am encouraged that my colleagues in government have committed to keeping the Winter Fuel Payment, ensuring that older people have the security and dignity they deserve. This means £200 will continue to be paid to households where someone has reached State Pension age and is under age 80, rising to £300 where households contain someone aged 80 and over.
I understand pensioners' concerns about the cost of living, particularly rising energy bills. I welcome the Chancellor's announcement that all Winter Fuel Payment recipients will receive an additional £300 to help with the cost of living. I understand that this will be paid automatically in November or December.
The Prime Minister has also introduced universal support for energy bills.
Under the Energy Price Guarantee, a typical household will pay no more than £2,500 per year until April 2023. It comes in addition to the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme and will support millions of people through a difficult winter and meaning they will not have to face bills of £6,000 this winter.
In April, there will be a Treasury-led review into how energy bills are supported going forwards. The objective of the review is to design a new approach that will cost the taxpayer significantly less than planned whilst ensuring enough support for those in need, and that the new approach will better incentivise energy efficiency.
The Government has agreed that it would be irresponsible for it to continue exposing the public finances to unlimited volatility in international gas prices.
The EPG is in addition to the £37 billion worth of support introduced earlier this year for households. This includes the £400 payment Energy Bill Rebate for households, and up to £1,200 for households in receipt of qualifying benefits, which will be delivered as planned.
If you feel you do not need the Winter Fuel Payment you can simply return it to the office that issues it. You can also write to the Department for Work and Pensions requesting not to receive a Winter Fuel Payment for future years.
In addition to Winter Fuel Payments, there are many other benefits available to pensioners, including free bus passes and free prescriptions. Cold Weather Payments are also available, and the Warm Home Discount provides over one million vulnerable pensioners with a £150 rebate on their energy bills.
I would also add that as a result of the 'triple lock', the value of the full basic State Pension is now £2,050 more than it was a decade ago. This year, owing to a statistical anomaly as a result of the Covid pandemic, the metric for average earnings cannot be used to calculate the Triple Lock. Therefore, we are reverting to a Double Lock, whereby the State Pension is raised by the highest of inflation or 2.5 per cent. This means pensioners will continue to be protected from any rises in prices. This is a temporary measure and we will revert to the Triple Lock in 2023/24.
I hope this reassures you that support is being offered to pensioners, people who have worked hard, saved, and done the right thing.
Furthermore, it is important to note that Winter Fuel Payments are not uprated in line with inflation and most payments for Winter Fuel Payment are made automatically in November or December.
I welcome the announcement that all recipients of the Winter Fuel Payment will receive an additional £300 to help with the rising cost of living. I understand that it will be paid automatically in November or December.
Since 2015, Winter Fuel Payments paid abroad have been restricted to individuals living in cooler climates. Payments are not made to individuals living in countries with an average winter temperature higher than in the warmest regions of the UK. This includes France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus.
If someone did not live in the UK during the qualifying week for Winter Fuel Payment, it is still possible to get the payment if someone both lives in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country and if that person has a genuine and sufficient link to the UK. Such a link would include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK.