Gordon Brown’s plans for a fuel rebate for all families on child benefit were rubbished yesterday for being “indiscriminate”, with the payment set to help the rich as well as the poor.
It emerged yesterday that the Prime Minister is mulling proposals to give £150 to the 7m families who receive child benefit, to help them cope with the soaring cost of fuel.
The scheme, part of Brown’s autumn fightback, is expected to cost the Treasury around £1bn.
But Michael Fallon, the Conservative chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, criticised the plans for helping the well-off.
“It’s completely indiscriminate and will benefit the rich and the poor. It would be far better to help those who need it most,” he told City A.M.
Fallon accused the government of mounting a “pre-election bribe”.
“The problem with one-off payments is that you don’t know whether they will be continued next year,” he said.
There are around 5m people in so called “fuel poverty”, defined as those who spend 10 per cent of their household income on energy bills.
A spokesperson at the Department for Business said of the plans: “The protection of those least able to heat their homes is a priority for the government. We will continue to work with energy companies, amongst others, on measures to help the most vulnerable to reduce the amount of energy they use and to lower their bills. With high fuel prices, the coming winter will be difficult for many families and we are committed to supporting them.”
A spokesman for the Treasury said yesterday: “These issues are a matter for the Chancellor and are considered on a budget by budget basis.”
In the past, winter fuel payments have only been handed out to pensioners and low-income families.
Over-60s will get a minimum of £250 this year.
Energy experts warned last month that households could be hit by a 40 per cent rise in gas and electricity bills by the end of the year.