A grand total of 54 pensioners handed back their Winter Fuel Payment last winter nationwide – out of more than 12 million recipients.
Over the past five winters, altruistic elderly people have given back the payments to the Government on 493 occasions.
But only 54 did so last winter, the lowest total in the past five years, the Examiner can exclusively reveal using the Freedom of Information Act.
The Government hasn’t published the number of pensioners receiving the Winter Fuel Payment last winter yet, but the season before it was 12.5m elderly people.
Assuming it was this total again for the winter of 2015/16, it means that roughly one in every 231,000 people declined their Winter Fuel Payment.
The amount you get is between £100 and £300 each.
It cost the Department for Work and Pensions £2.1bn to help Britain’s 12.5m eligible elderly with their heating bills for the winter of 2014/15.
It means that, at most, the Government got back a relatively paltry £16,200 from those well-meaning people who decided to give it up.
This isn’t a straightforward process, as Lord Sugar found out in 2010.
The businessman and star of The Apprentice said that he argued for an hour with ‘some civil servant in Newcastle’ that he didn’t need the money before giving up.
He said the £200 would go to good causes.
On the Government’s website it simply says: “Write to the office that pays your Winter Fuel Payment if you want to cancel it.”
Back in 2013 the former Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said he ‘would encourage’ pensioners who didn’t feel they needed their benefits to hand them back.
But there is no form specifically to do this on the Winter Fuel Payment section of the official Government website.
The figures for those who declined their winter fuel payments in recent years are