All Suffolk areas see fall in winter fuel payment recipients
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A vital scheme to tackle fuel poverty saw 2,000 fewer payments in Suffolk and Essex in one year, new figures have revealed.
Figures show that in winter 2019/20 - the most recent data set available - there were 168,100 recipients of winter fuel payments in Suffolk.
This is more than 2,000 fewer than the year before, when 170,120 people received the support.
Winter fuel payments were introduced in 1997 to tackle fuel poverty among pensioners.
Households with someone receiving a state pension - people born on or before September 26, 1955 - are automatically entitled to a tax-free sum of between £100 and £300 each year to put towards the heating bill.
Across Britain, more than 11m payments were handed out in 2019/20. Most of these (39%) were for £100, but 1.8m households accepted the maximum £300 to get them through the winter months.
It comes as this newspaper launches a new campaign called There with you this winter.
Every local authority in Suffolk and Essex has seen a fall in the number of payments given over the past ten years.
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The biggest fall has been recorded in Ipswich, with a 12% decrease in payments since 2009/10.
Mid-Suffolk has seen the smallest change, with only a 1% fall over the decade.
The authority receiving the most payments is Tendring, in Essex, with 41,510 recipients.
Suffolk Coastal is the area receiving the most winter fuel payments in Suffolk, with 33,960 people applying for the scheme.
Winter fuel payments are different to cold weather payments, which are given if the average temperature in your area is recorded as - or forecast to be - 0C or below over seven days in a row.
This year's scheme starts at the beginning of November.
Councillor Richard Kerry, East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for housing, said: "East Suffolk Council provides support, on behalf of all Suffolk councils, to residents struggling to pay their fuel bills or keep warm.
"The service can include a home energy survey and bespoke advice on what to do to stay warm and save money, as well as signposting residents to sources of help with bills, insulation and extra heating.
"Contact via phone 03456 037 686 or email email@example.com."