Rosie Winterton MP

British Minister at the Department of Work and Pensions, Rosie Winterton MP, Minister has responded to the call of the UK Autism Foundation on the serious issue of Autism and Winter Fuel Poverty.

The UK Autism Foundation has been campaigning non stop on behalf of families with autism who are below the poverty line. The economic crisis has hit families with autism very hard, some families have had to decide between heating and eating.

Parliamentarians of all parties have supported the call of the UK Autism Foundation for more help for families with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome where fuel poverty is concerned. The respected parliamentarian, Rudi Vis MP tabled an important early day motion on ‘Autism amd Winter Fuel Poverty. ‘ Fifity five MPs have so far signed the key motion in the House of Commons in Westminster. MPs are calling on the Government to help families and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

The DWP Minister Rosie Winterton has personally responded to the call of the UK Autism Foundation urging the Government to do more to help families with autism on the rising energy bills. Rosie Winterton is the Minister in charge of Winter Fuel Payments.

The Minster said: ‘ We have negotiated a voluntary agreement with energy suppliers which means that the total level of assistance offered to vulnerable households by suppliers will increase to £150 million a year by 2011.’ She added ‘You may be interested to know that, as the Chancellor announced in his Pre-Budget report in November last year, for 2008/09 only, an extra payment of £60 will be made on top of the £10 Christmas Bonus. The Christmas Bonus is payable to those in receipt of a qualifying benefit during the relevant week.’

Ivan Corea of the UK Autism Foundation said: ‘We are delighted that DWP Minister Rosie Winterton is taking a long hard look at Autism and Winter Fuel Poverty. We urge Rose Winterton and Her Majesty’s Government to look at the whole issue of Winter Fuel Payments and increase them for families with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the 2009 Budget. The recession is affecting so many families with autism. Life is hard in any case, on a daily basis and the deepening recession is making matters worse. Parents, carers,children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the UK need urgent financial help and support.’

The Department of Work and Pensions has also issued information on helplines for families and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the United Kingdom:

* Disability Living Allowance and the disability premiums in the income-related benefits provide additional weekly payments and are related to the individual’s circumstances. The most severely disabled people receive an additional amount of almost £8,000 per year in recognition of their extra costs. Employment and Support Allowance customers can receive an additional component for disability after 13 weeks rather than waiting 52 weeks for the payment of a disability premium as with Income Support. Where the support component is payable, there is also automatic entitlement to the enhanced disability premium (currently £12.60 for a single person).People can find out more about these benefits by telephoning the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 88 22 00.

* For information on the Warm Front, the main programme for tackling winter fuel poverty in the private sector in England, providing grants for insulation and home improvements to households in receipt of qualifying benefits – householders should call 0800 316 6011. Householders in Wales should call 0800 316 2815, householders in Scotland should call 0800 316 6009 to find out more about Warm Deal or 0800 316 1653 to find out more about the Central Heating Programme, householders in Northern Ireland should call 0800 181 667 to find out more about the Warm Homes scheme.

* To check whether a competing energy supplier can offer a better deal customers can can contact Consumer Direct on its consumer helpline, 08454 04 05 06. The Home Heat Helpline, 0800 33 66 99, run by the energy companies can also supply on fuel matters, including discounts that are available to certain groups of people.

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