Cuts in winter fuel payments ‘will condemn Redbridge pensioners to death’

�Pensioners will be “condemned to death” because of a reduction in fuel payments, the president of Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum has said.

Chris Wilson, 92, is campaigning with the group against the reduction of the allowance, which gives people aged over 80 �400 off their winter fuel bills.

This allowance was increased under the Labour government last year via additional payments, but this year it will fall back to �300.

Concerned by the shortfall many older people will see in their benefit, Mr Wilson, of Havering Gardens, Chadwell Heath, said: “My fuel bill for last year was �1,000. With rising costs of gas and electric, it will be impossible for many pensioners to cope with.”

The forum is due to meet with both Ilford North MP Lee Scott and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, to ask them to challenge the issue in the Commons during the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s pre-budget report later this month, in which the topic will be discussed.

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Mr Wilson said: “The price of fuel is going up around 15 per cent so if anything, they should be increasing the winter fuel allowance.”

One-off payments

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Official figures show the number of deaths linked to cold reached 25,400 in England and Wales during four winter months last year.

Mr Scott said that for the poorest, there will be help on hand with one-off payments depending on need.

He said: “There will be extra money this year for those worse off during the cold months, so I hope that will allay the fears of the forum.”

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