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ELDERLY MISS OUT ON EXTRA FUEL PAYMENTS

January 20, 2010 9:16 PM

Thousands of pensioners across the North East are missing out on crucial winter fuel payments because the GovernmentÂ's benefits system is too complicated, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Research carried out by the Party found that 96,525 people across the region are eligible for help with their fuel bills without knowing it.

In Newcastle North there are 3,165 missing out, while in Newcastle East 3,355 pensioners do not claim the extra benefit and in Newcastle Central 2,590 miss out.

Newcastle North campaigner Ron Beadle said: "It is a scandal that pensioners on the breadline are missing out on these payments, worth an estimated £42.5 million.

"Fuel prices are at an all time high, making Cold Weather Payments all the more important to people already struggling on a poverty pension.

"Labour has failed pensioners by creating a complicated system that makes it difficult for them to get the help they desperately need.

"The Government should be making every effort to identify pensioners missing out and get them this extra cash."

The figures, which are released during one of the coldest winters for years, show that up to 1.7 million pensioners across the UK have failed to claim Pension Credits, which would in turn qualify them for a Cold Weather Payment of £25 a week.

:: Anyone interested in making a claim is asked to call 0800-99-1234.