Men over 60 win pounds 100 in winter fuel sex-bias case

THE pounds 100 winter-fuel payment will go to an extra 1.5 million pensioners after a retired postal worker yesterday won a European Court of Justice battle against sex discrimination in the Government's social security benefits system.

Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Social Security, was forced to act after the European court decided that John Taylor, 64, of Norton, North Yorkshire, was a victim of unlawful sex discrimination. He had not been not entitled to the payment until he qualified for a state pension at 65, paid to women at 60.

The court ruling means the Government will have to extend the winter- fuel payments immediately to all men over 60. Campaigners said that they would increase the pressure for the equalisation of the state pension for men and women at 60.

Downing Street said that it could cost an estimated pounds 125m in back payments, stretching back two years to the time the winter-fuel allowance was brought in by Labour.

A publicity campaign is to be mounted to identify the estimated 1.5 million men who will be eligible for the extra cash. Ministers believe that could cost the taxpayer pounds 25m in administrative costs. The annual cost of extending the payments to all men over 60 will be pounds 85m.

The winter-fuel payments were pounds 20 when they were introduced in 1997, but increased to pounds 50 a year later. Pensioners are entitled to pounds 100 per household for winter fuel bills; if there are two eligible pensioners, the payment is still limited to pounds 100.

Officials were left scratching their heads over how to fulfil the court ruling. "Most of these men are not on our records," one Whitehall source said. "They don't show up if they are not unemployed and not drawing a state pension. It may look simple but it's very complicated."

Mr Taylor, who was supported by the civil-rights organisation Liberty, said: "I've been fighting for two years for this and I'm very pleased. All the over-sixties should receive winter-fuel payments now, but although we've won the battle we have not yet won the war.

"This is part of a major campaign and our ultimate objective is to achieve equal state pension age for men and women. This is a great Christmas present for all the over-sixties and a brilliant start to the millennium."

Mr Taylor, whose bill for gas central heating and electricity at his three-bedroom house is about pounds 500 a year, had sought judicial review.

Help the Aged said: "We believe pensioners' lives could be better improved by a higher state pension and better support insulating cold homes."

Liberty's legal officer Di Luping, who is Mr Taylor's solicitor, said: "It is a milestone in the fight for true equality between men and women. However, this is just one state benefit and there are others that should be equally available at age 60 for both sexes."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific