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Written Question
Pensioners: Fuel Poverty
21 Oct 2021

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the steps her Department could take to help pensioners avoid fuel poverty ahead of energy bill increases.

Answered by Guy Opperman

The Government is committed to tackling fuel poverty and protecting low income and vulnerable households.

The Winter Fuel Payment provides pensioners with support for their energy bills over winter. Government has committed to keeping the Winter Fuel Payment and will continue to pay £200 to eligible households with someone between State Pension age and 79, and £300 to a household with someone aged 80 or over. The payment is intended to give reassurance to pensioners that they can keep warm during the colder months.

Cold Weather Payments are also available for periods of extreme weather to those in receipt of Pension Credit, including those receiving the Savings Credit element. The Scottish Government will in due course replace Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments with its own provision under the terms of the Scotland Act 2016.

The Warm Home Discount scheme, worth £354 million this year, further provides eligible low-income and vulnerable households with £140 off their fuel bill over winter. Around one million low-income pensioner households – in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of the Pension Credit – will receive a rebate this winter. Most eligible pensioners will receive their rebates automatically, without having to take any action. The scheme will be extended to 2026 and continue to support low-income pensioners with their energy bills.

We recognise that some people continue to require extra support, which is why we have introduced a £421 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable people in England with essential household costs over the winter as the economy recovers. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

This winter, the energy price cap will continue to protect around 15 million British households on default tariffs, saving them between £75 and £100 a year on dual fuel bills. In addition, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reached a Voluntary Agreement with energy suppliers last year which remains in place this winter. Vulnerable people and those experiencing financial difficulty should contact their supplier to discuss support available under the agreement, including reassessing, reducing or pausing debt repayments.


Written Question
Winter Fuel Payments
21 Oct 2021

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she plans to take ahead of expected energy bill increases to help ensure that the Winter Fuel Payment is fit for purpose.

Answered by Guy Opperman

The Government has committed to keeping the winter fuel payment and will continue to pay £200 to eligible households with someone between state pension age and 79, and £300 to a household with someone aged 80 or over. The payment provides reassurance to pensioners that Government assistance is available and that they can keep warm during the colder months.

The Scottish Government will in due course replace these payments with its own provision under the terms of the Scotland Act 2016.


Written Question
Winter Fuel Payments
21 Oct 2021

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to ensure that the Winter Fuel Payment will be uprated annually to keep pace with inflation.

Answered by Guy Opperman

The Government has committed to keeping the winter fuel payment and will continue to pay £200 to eligible households with someone between state pension age and 79, and £300 to a household with someone aged 80 or over. The payment provides reassurance to pensioners that Government assistance is available and that they can keep warm during the colder months.

The Scottish Government will in due course replace these payments with its own provision under the terms of the Scotland Act 2016.


Written Question
Bereavement Support Payment
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the take-up rate of the Bereavement Support Payment since its introduction in April 2017.

Answered by Guy Opperman

It is not possible to accurately measure take-up of BSP, out of those who are eligible, by year as this would require monthly data on deaths by age and marital status.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Personal Income
9 Feb 2021

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Johnson & Others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Court of Appeal decision 22 June 2020, what steps her Department is taking to recompense universal credit claimants who experienced fluctuations of their income due to the method of calculating earned income prior to the changes brought into effect on 16 November 2020.

Answered by Will Quince

The legislation and arrangements we have put in place provide a remedy to satisfy the Court of Appeal’s Judgment and means that for future cases affected by this issue, monthly earnings will be reallocated to another assessment period, which means that only one set of earnings will be taken into account rather than two, and certain claimants will be able to benefit from any applicable work allowance.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment did not require the Department to apply the new arrangements retrospectively.


Written Question
Universal Credit
22 Jan 2021

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the universal credit monthly assessment period on the financial stability of claimants.

Answered by Will Quince

Universal Credit (UC) is a calendar monthly assessed benefit that is paid monthly in arrears. This approach reflects the world of work, where the majority of all employees receive wages monthly.

Unlike the legacy benefit system, Universal Credit takes income and earnings into account in a way that is fair and transparent across all claimant circumstances, such as different frequencies in earnings and income received. The amount of Universal Credit paid reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household for each monthly assessment period, including any income and/or earnings reported by the employer during that period.

Monthly reporting allows Universal Credit to be adjusted on a monthly basis, which ensures that if a claimant's income falls, which results in a rise in their Universal Credit award, they will not have to wait several months to receive it.

In addition, Work Coaches are trained to gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first contact and can refer them to more specialist support for personal budgeting, money guidance and debt advice if required, including through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).


Written Question
Occupational Pensions: Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
7 Jul 2020

Questioner: Neale Hanvey (Alba - Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many workers in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency (a) are receiving auto-enrolment pension contributions through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (b) have stopped contributing towards a pension since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Guy Opperman

Complete data is not available on the employees for whom employers have claimed automatic enrolment minimum pension contributions under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is because the necessary information is collected at employee level only on claims where 100 or more staff are furloughed.

An estimate of the number of employees resident in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency that are no longer making employee pension contributions, via their employers payroll, is not currently available and to provide one would incur disproportionate cost.

In the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency, since 2012, approximately 7,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 2,310 employers have met their duties.