Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Well-Off Targeted over Fuel Payment; Charity Underlines Cold Fear

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Well-Off Targeted over Fuel Payment; Charity Underlines Cold Fear

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay ? 0191 201 6007 ? neil.mckay@ncjmedia.co.uk

C OMFORTABLY-off people who receive the Winter Fuel Payment are being asked to donate it to those at risk of being killed by the cold weather.

Most residents of the United Kingdom born before July 5, 1951, are entitled to receive the annual payment of between PS100 and PS300 from the Government.

It is intended to go towards their heating bills, regardless of their wealth or need.

But the fact that it is paid to those who can afford to heat their homes - including millionaires and others wealthy enough to spend winter months abroad - is becoming increasingly controversial. In the North East, a charity again urged those who can afford it to donate the payment to do so.

Barbara Gubbins, chief executive of the County Durham Community Foundation, said: "Last winter, there were seven million UK households living in fuel poverty.

"Fuel poverty is described as the need to spend over 10% of the household income on fuel costs.

"During the winter months in County Durham and Darlington, an additional 280 vulnerable people die as a result of the cold and poor living conditions, with over 58,000 households living in fuel poverty.

"In the more rural areas, such as Wear Valley and Teesdale, almost 50% of households are affected."

As part of a UK-wide campaign, Surviving Winter was introduced last year by the County Durham Community Foundation movement to help thousands of people who suffer as a result of the cold weather.

This includes the elderly, those with disabilities, and families with small children living in fuel poverty.

The foundation is calling on those who can afford to forego their Winter Fuel Payment, to donate it to the campaign in order to help those for whom it is not nearly enough.

Ms Gubbins added: "In County Durham and Darlington, this translates to over 108,900 people. …

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