Ministers Block Ruffley's Cold Weather Payment Demand: Ruffley Slams Government "Waffle" as Letting Down Suffolk Pensioners

Tuesday, 28 January, 2003

Minister's refusal to listen to Local MP's demands for adequate cold weather

payments spells disappointment for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket pensioners

David Ruffley MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket expressed his sorrow and dismay at a reply that he has received from Pensions Minister, Mr Malcolm Wicks MP, to his demands for an acceptable increase in cold weather payments for pensioners. David's demand followed complaints from Age Concern Suffolk's Chief Officer, Mrs Daphne Savage.

David Ruffley wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions in December to ask for the wind chill factor to be taken into consideration when there is a significant period of cold weather and for details of payments made under the existing system to his pensioner constituents.

He said 'the Minister's reply did not address the particular points that I have raised about the effects of the wind chill factor in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket. Cold weather payments are linked to postcodes and depend on the nearest weather station. This does not adequately take into account the temperature variations that occur throughout East Anglia.

'The Government's waffle is just another example of the Government's disappointing approach to pensioner fuel poverty in East Anglia. I regularly hear from many pensioners in my constituency who are troubled by rising fuel bills and together with rising Council tax bills; many are finding it difficult to keep warm during the very cold snaps that we get in winter months.

'It is about time this Government started listening to the needs of the pensioners who are struggling to keep warm in the winter.'