Nearly 30,000 get help with energy bills
Tens of thousands of older people in South Tyneside received help to pay their heating bills last winter, new figures show.
The winter fuel payment is a tax-free annual benefit paid to people over pension credit age to help them with their bills as temperatures drop.
Department for Work and Pensions statistics show that 28,354 older people in the borough received a fuel payment in 2021 – up from 27,775 the year before.
Of them, 7,851 were aged over 80, while a further 6,778 were aged under 69.
They were among 11.2 million nationally who received payments last winter – up slightly on the 11.1 million a year earlier.
The amount someone receives depends on their age, household circumstances and the benefits they receive but range between £100 and £300 – with the Government uprating these by £300 for 2022/23 due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) said older people now face the rising cost of living ahead of cold winter months.
NEA director of policy Peter Smith said: "The frailest and elderly and many other groups face serious health impacts as a result of fuel poverty this winter.
"People living on low, fixed incomes, are finding it impossible to respond to big increases in their energy bills."
The NEA said older people missing out on pension credit will add to the cost-of-living strain – warning that more than one million people eligible for the benefit do not claim it and that energy bills are "likely to stay unaffordable” for many older people despite the winter fuel payments.