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Author: Department of Social Development
Published on 24 February 2011 12:00 AM

Minister for Social Development, Alex Attwood is encouraging anyone aged 60 or over, who has not received a Winter Fuel Payment before, to check their entitlement.

New customers, who have not claimed yet, have until 30 March 2011 to claim.

Winter Fuel Payments have already been sent out to more than 300,000 older people across Northern Ireland to help with their heating costs.

Alex Attwood said: "While over 300,000 people will benefit from an automatic payment this winter, there may also be people who are working who do not realise that they too are eligible.

"With the continued high cost of fuel, there is no doubt that many older people may have difficulty budgeting to heat their homes. This payment can make a significant difference and I would urge people grasp the opportunity.

"I encourage anyone who thinks they may qualify for the payment to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline before 30 March to check if they can claim.

Claims can be made online at: opens link in new window or by calling the helpline on 08459 15 15 15, (0845 601 5613 for textphone users).

"Going forward, I also believe that there is scope to extend the qualifying dates which trigger the Winter Fuel Payment, to enable more older people to receive this vital payment each winter and I have made this point strongly to Ministers in London.”

Most households with someone born on or before 5 July 1950 are eligible for £250 towards their winter fuel bills. Households with someone aged 80 and over will receive £400.

Minister Attwood also called upon over 60s to make sure they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to.

Alex Attwood said: "My Department also provides free benefit assessments for people aged 60 and over. Call 0800 232 1271 today to check you are getting all you are entitled to. Help is available with the application process, if needed."

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575