Harwich division tops league table
OFFICAL figures have revealed that north east Essex has the second highest concentration of elderly people in Britain.More than £7million winter fuel cash was paid to pensioner households in the Harwich parliamentary constituency last year, with only residents in the Isle of Wight receiving more.
By Graham Dines
OFFICAL figures have revealed that north east Essex has the second highest concentration of elderly people in Britain.
More than £7million winter fuel cash was paid to pensioner households in the Harwich parliamentary constituency last year, with only residents in the Isle of Wight receiving more.
Statistics given to the House of Commons reveal that households in the Harwich division, which includes Jaywick, Clacton, Holland-on-Sea, Frinton, Walton-on-the-Naze, Dovercourt and Harwich itself, were paid a total of £7.1m in winter fuel allowances in the financial year 2004-5, designed to help with heating costs in the winter months.
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People aged 60 or over receive £200 per household, regardless of means, while those aged more than 80 received £300 per household.
Since 1999, £29.1m has been paid to the elderly in Harwich while the Isle of Wight totalled £32m. Other seaside communities with high elderly resident populations were in the top five for handouts - Christchurch in Dorset, Bexhill & Battle in East Suffolk, and Norfolk North - while Norfolk South-West, which includes Thetford, and Suffolk Coastal (Felixstowe, Aldeburgh and Southwold) were only slightly behind.
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Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council, said: “In excess of half our residents qualify for this allowance. During the past 10 years, our population has grown by more than 30,000 and the majority of them are coming here to retire because of the attractiveness of the location.
“It has put a strain on our service because someone, somewhere has to pay. It is recognised in Tendring's grant from central government but we could always do with more.
“The winter fuel allowance is, quite rightly, paid to all elderly residents regardless of means and those more well off spend their money in the shops, and on services, in Tendring, which is good for the local restaurant
Mr Allen added: “The next big cost will be free off-peak bus fares for all pensioner residents. The Government will be part funding that but it is really an open cheque for the council because we do not know how many people will apply for their passes.”
Figures for the parliamentary constituencies in Suffolk and north Essex were: Harwich £7.1m in 2004-5 (£29.1m since the financial year 1999-2000), Suffolk Coastal £5.8m (£23.2m), Waveney £5.4m (£22.2m), Bury St Edmunds £4.8m (£19.4m), Suffolk Central & Ipswich North £4.6m (£18.6m), Suffolk South £4.5m (£18.1m), Essex North £4.4m (£18m), Saffron Walden £4.4m (£18m), Suffolk West £4.2m (£17.1m), Braintree £4.2m (16.9m), Maldon & Chelmsford East £4.1m (£17.4m), Chelmsford West £4.1m (£16.7m), Ipswich £3.9m (£16.5m) and Colchester £3.9m (£16m).
Inner city areas with high levels of deprivation were well down the national league table - all 10 Glasgow constituencies were under £3m each while all the constituencies in Bradford and Leeds received around £3.5m each.