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Chancellor Alistair Darling gave his budget speech today and confirmed the government would be holding on to its Winter Fuel Allowance scheme.

The move will ensure that the elderly benefit from state support with their electricity and gas bills.

Mr Darling told the House of Commons: "Last year, because of the steep increase in energy prices, I brought in a one-off increase in the Winter Fuel Allowance.

"Energy prices are now expected to come down. But to help pensioners even more, I intend to maintain this allowance at the higher level for another year."

He added that the allowance is worth £250 for over 60s and £400 a year for over 80s.

Mr Darling concluded that more than 5.5 million pensioners have less than £10,000 saved for their retirement and that it was those people he wanted to help.

The deadline line for claims for Winter Fuel Payments was March 30th 2009.

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