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Winter fuel payment must rise - Sinn Féin

18 October, 2005

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Women and Older People, Pat O'Rawe MLA, is calling for a major review of the Winter Fuel Payments for older people with a view to increasing it in line with the price of Home Heating Oil.

Ms O'Rawe said:

"Since 2000, the Winter Fuel Payment has remained stagnant at £200 despite the drastic rise in the price of oil in the same period. While £200 may have went a long way towards filling an oil tank in 2000, it is unlikely to even half fill a tank in 2005. I have spoken to many older people in the Newry/Armagh area, as well as the various support groups, and there is no doubt that this is one of the major issues affecting the elderly within our communities.

"Speaking to an older constituent in the Armagh City and District area", continued Mrs O'Rawe, "I was told that, with the cold weather lasting from almost October to March, the heating is being used a lot more to keep a warm home. With the Winter Fuel Payment of £200, usually being received in November, this constituent feared running out of oil in the depths of the winter. Unfortunately, this story of fear can be reciprocated by elderly people right across the entire North.

"I will be contacting the relevant minister on this issue and will be asking for the Winter Fuel Payment to be adjusted to a realistic figure for keeping the homes of older people warm this winter." ENDS

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