Janet’s winter woe over fuel payment error

BATTLE Janet Munro. Picture: Allan Hutchings (13185-590)
BATTLE Janet Munro. Picture: Allan Hutchings (13185-590)
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Ken Ellcome with Jean and Allan Thompson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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IT WAS meant to help keep her warm during cold weather.

But one Fareham pensioner was shocked to see her winter fuel payment had been halved due to a system error.

Janet Munro, 65, now wants to warn other pensioners to check their bank accounts to make sure they have received the correct amount from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).

Her payment of £200 was meant to be automatically paid into her bank account on November 24.

But because she lives at in a flat numbered with an ‘a’ in Butser Walk, Broadlaw, which is part of a property split into two, the DWP system split the £200 in half.

Mrs Munro lives in the flat by herself and has no connection to the people who live underneath her.

She received her full payment last year and doesn’t understand why it happened this year.

Mrs Munro said: ‘It’s more frustrating than anything else. It’s just not on. I have worked all my life.

‘I’ve never scrounged a penny but this is like banging your head against a brick wall.

‘When I call the DWP, it costs me a fortune as I have to call them from a mobile.

‘Every time I call they tell me there is a backlog.

‘This is gradually eating into the £100 they owe me as there is always a backlog.

‘I can’t afford to have my radiators on full as I don’t know when and if I will be receiving the rest of the money.

‘If I was older and didn’t have my mind, I wouldn’t have noticed.

‘I wonder how many people haven’t noticed?

‘I was even thinking of writing to Downing Street about this. It’s disgusting.’

The winter fuel payment is a tax-free sum of money between £100 and £300 to help pay heating bills for people who were born on or before 5 July 1951.

Most payments are made automatically between November and December.

The DWP website states that: ‘You should get your money by Christmas.’

When contacted by The News, a spokesman for DWP said: ‘We apologise for this error and we have released a top-up payment to Mrs Munro on Friday.’

Mrs Munro said: ‘It’s not just about me.

‘It’s for everybody. I still have my wits about me, a lot of pensioners don’t.

‘All because of a little ‘a’. I’ve had to wait weeks, over Christmas and through freezing weather, to get some clear answer from them.

‘It still takes a week to be issued, it’s ridiculous.’

· For more information on winter fuel payments go to gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment.