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Suffolk’s ‘kind’ older generation will still support Surviving Winter despite Theresa May’s fuel payments overhaul

PUBLISHED: 14:32 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:32 18 May 2017

Organisers of the Surviving Winter campaign. Picture: ARCHANT

Organisers of the Surviving Winter campaign. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Suffolk’s “kind and generous” older generation will still support the acclaimed Surviving Winter campaign even if winter fuel payments are cut under plans unveiled by Theresa May.

Conservative party leader Theresa May at her general election manifesto launch in Halifax. Picture: DANNY LAWSON/PA WIREConservative party leader Theresa May at her general election manifesto launch in Halifax. Picture: DANNY LAWSON/PA WIRE

The Prime Minister courted controversy today by announcing in her Conservative manifesto that the annual winter fuel payments would be means-tested to help fill a hole in social care funding if they are re-elected.

The benefit was introduced in 1997 to tackle fuel poverty among the elderly. Payments from £100 to £300 currently go to all pensioners regardless of wealth. More than 12 million people are eligible.

For the last five years, Suffolk Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign, backed by the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, has encouraged people to donate their winter fuel payment to help others who may struggle to afford to heat their homes in the winter.

The campaign has raised more than £310,000 and supported more than 850 households during the harshest winter months.

Tim Holder, development director at the Suffolk Community Foundation, believes people will continue to donate even if their own winter fuel payments are cut after being means tested.

He said: “There are some very kind and generous people in this county, and all giving is good, and as I am convinced that people who gave money to the winter fuel allowance, who were giving their winter fuel payments, were able to just transfer, I also think there will be people who will understand the need and will continue giving regardless of their winter fuel payment.

“The Surviving Winter campaign has traditionally been fuelled by asking people who receive their non-means tested winter fuel payments to donate it to people in the county who need it more than they do.

“We have 25,000 older people in Suffolk who, according to the Hidden Needs report produced by the University of Suffolk, are living below the poverty line. So whatever the challenges, we have still go to find a way to keep them warm during the winter months.”

“As this story unfolds from the Conservative manifesto, we will be considering how we can work with Suffolk to make sure that next year there are not older people who are being affected by not having this support from the Surviving Winter campaign.”

Details of how the means testing would work are not clear.

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