New data collected by Quilter, the wealth manager and financial adviser found that just 186 (0.002%) pensioners opted out of getting the Winter Fuel Payment in 2021/2022.
The Freedom of Information data obtained from the Department for Work and Pensions reveals that this is a 78% decrease from the 846 people who opted out of receiving the social security payment in 2020/21.
Although the data is not available for how many Winter Fuel Payments were made in either the 2020/21 or 2021/22 tax years, in the winter of 2019/20 11.4 million people received Winter Fuel Payment.
The Winter Fuel Payment is available to anyone born on or before 25 September 1956 and someone can get between £100 and £300 to help with their bills in winter. The exact amount depends on your age and whether other people in your household also qualify.
Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan-Smith, has previously suggested that wealthy pensioners should consider opting out of the payment. Similarly, Sir Alan Sugar has complained that the opt out process was too difficult after he received the payment.
With an energy crisis putting a strain on everyone’s finances more and more people will be relying on all available social security payments to help them cover increasing energy costs. The government recently committed to expanding the Warm Homes Discount which will mean the value of the household rebates will rise from £140 to £150.
|Number of people
who opted out of
receiving Winter Fuel
Ian Browne, retirement planning expert at Quilter says:
“It is perfectly understandable that people do not go out of their way to opt out of this social security payment. Why turn down free money? However, we are facing one of the worst cost of living crises many will have faced in their lifetime and the government is already financially overstretched due to its pandemic response and will be looking at every possible way to save money.
“There are certainly more than 186 pensioners in the UK who are not reliant on the Winter Fuel Payment in fact according to the ONS one in five over-65s in the UK is classified as a millionaire. It is possible that the jump in people opting out in 2020/21 was a result of having more time during the pandemic restrictions to navigate an opt-out. The government could look at ways to make this process easier for people and redistribute to those in society who, even with this payment, will continue to struggle
“The recent council tax rebate policy illustrates that the government can formulate ways to give targeted help to those less well off in society. This social security payment needs to be more smartly distributed so that more funds can be freed up to support other pressing issues for low-income pensioners.”