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Pensioners miss out on £150m heating help

Over a million pensioners are missing out on cold weather payments or discounted energy bills according to official data.

Cold weather payments of £25 a week are available to low income pensioners during cold spells, and who are also entitled to a discount on energy bills through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

However, as only those claiming Pension Credit get these payments automatically, Government figures show that up to 1.4 million others are missing out on their cold weather payments and other help.

Sir Steve Webb, former pensions minister, said he was shocked by the figures. "Many pensioners are worried about fuel bills, so it is good that there are schemes such as cold weather payments and the warm home discount to help the most vulnerable.

"However, it's shocking that the Government admits that up to 1.4 million pensioners could be missing out because they fail to claim Pension Credit which triggers entitlement to these other forms of help."

In addition to the winter fuel payments, pensioners are entitled to cold weather payments of £25 a week. These are paid when the average temperature in any local area is forecast to dip to freezing or below for a period of seven days.

Under the Warm Home Discount Scheme, energy companies give a £140 rebate on electricity bills for people receiving the "guarantee credit" element of Pension Credit.

The total amount of cold weather help available but unclaimed is approaching £150 million this winter alone.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: "We urge pensioners across the UK to check that they and their relatives, friends and neighbours are keeping warm and receiving the support they are entitled to."