Visits to Pensioners
§ Mr. Winnick
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what visits he made to pensioners on low incomes during the recent cold weather. 
§ Mr. Heald
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State sees pensioners throughout the year, but he has had no meetings in an official capacity with pensioners in the recent period.
However, our commitment to help with periods of cold weather is reflected in the fact that more than 5 million cold weather payments, worth more than £43 million, have been made so far this winter.
Apart from cold weather payments, the total extra help above normal upratings made available to pensioners on income-related benefits since 1988 is worth around 1.2 billion pounds a year.
Expenditure on benefits for the elderly rose by almost 50 per cent. in real terms between 1978–79 and 1995–96.