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Means-testing pensioners for benefits moves a step closer

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

Comments (14)

Pensioners could face the prospect of losing their automatic winter fuel allowances, free bus passes and free TV licences after the next election, it emerged last night.

Speculation about whether benefits enjoyed by millions of pensioners – irrespective of their wealth – would continue indefinitely intensified amid debate about further Government spending cuts.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said universal benefits for pensioners are to be protected for the financial year 2015-16, but offered no guarantees beyond that.

The statement effectively extends David Cameron’s pledge not to cut the benefits during this Parliament for a further 11 months to April 2016.

With Chancellor George Osborne seeking an additional £10 billion in savings as he negotiates spending settlements for 2015/16, Mr Cameron had been coming under intense pressure to means-test benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and free TV licences, bus passes, eye tests and prescriptions for pensioners, to save money for other priorities.

There was speculation yesterday that some kind of earlier cut might be under consideration, after a Downing Street spokeswoman said that the payments were only protected until the general election scheduled for May 7 2015 – around a month after the start of the financial year.

But the PM’s official spokesman told reporters: “As regards pensioner benefits, the Prime Minister has very clearly set out his promises on this. He stands fully behind them.

“Pensioner benefits are fully protected for the entirety of this Parliament – including for the year 2015/16.”

With health, schools and overseas aid already protected from reductions in the spending review, the move to put pensioner benefits off-limits in the shorter term restricts even further Mr Osborne’s room for manoeuvre when looking for cuts in departmental spending.

He is thought to be coming under intense pressure to demand that the bulk of the savings come from the welfare bill, in order to avoid further cuts to areas like defence, criminal justice, the police, local government and transport. Mr Cameron’s pledge to preserve pensioners’ benefits was first made during the 2010 general election campaign and confirmed in the 2010 Coalition Agreement, which sets out the Government’s policy framework to the end of this Parliament. But some Cabinet minister are thought to believe that the payments should be means-tested to save money, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has publicly suggested that wealthier pensioners can afford to “sacrifice” some of their benefits.

Mr Cameron made clear last month he intended to keep his word, saying: “I made a very clear promise at the election that we would keep the winter fuel payments alongside the other pensioner benefits as they were, and that’s a promise I’m keeping.”

Mr Osborne is due to announce spending settlements for 2015/16 by the end of June 2013.

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  • hetzer  |  February 06 2013, 11:34PM

    What is wrong with you people? You just can't or won't see the big picture will you? This all stems, by the back door, on instructions from the REAL bosses, the Zionist Bankers. The puppet Govt are using every possible means to strip wealth and assets from everyone except themselves. Whether Con, Lib or Lab they are prostitutes in suits, working to a foreplanned political agenda to impoverish and enslave us all. They have, to a man, sold their souls to the Rothschilds and Big Corporations. The reality is they want to kill off older people as fast as possible, either through poverty, cold, lack of healthcare or whatever. MPs fiddle expenses with impunity, won't prosecute their Banker bosses for fraud, cover up child abuse, they happily pay £53 million of our money to Brussels EVERY day without our consent and use our money for help foreign terrorists. They want to steal everything from us and are succeeding. This all part of a grand plan for every nation, to transfer wealth from one sector to the other. The rich get richer, not by their own efforts but by stealing from the poorer. As long as central Banks print money and issue it as debt, it will get worse. There is NO national debt, how can there be with money created from nothing? All money should be printed by a Govt and issued as credit. It is the older generation, rich or otherwise, who KNOW real freedom, that is in line for culling one way or another. The plan is to eventually create citizens become complicit slaves, back to feudalism. All the time we have all these rich spivs thinking they are elitist, everyone should take every penny. If we don't, they will. Cull Westminster, get rid of the corrupt entirity and replace them with fair, honest and decent human beings, up to and fit for the job.

  • collegefields  |  February 04 2013, 5:16PM

    the only way, if you don't need it, you shouldn't have it .... lolly60 and RichardH11 get my vote on this one.

    |   -2
  • winford  |  February 04 2013, 12:31PM

    Maybe benefits of any kind from child allowance to the heating allowance to old ages pensions should only be paid to those who have contriubuted in their lifetime. This would certainly cut the bill back by thousands and thousands of people - immigrants etc - who have paid NOTHING into our NHS but are given all the benefits as they they have lived here and contributed. Why should allowances be paid for children who don't live here let alone whos parents have contributed nothing to our government. Let the people 'benefit' who have paid into the system and this includespensioners who have worked all their lives who should not be penalised by having bus passes etc stopped.

    |   5
  • mcupis  |  February 04 2013, 8:26AM

    There is a big difference between having cash and having assets. A retired copuple could very easily live in a house that is worth quite a lot on paper, but have little in the way of savings and income. Is it fair that they should be subjected to higher taxes? I don't think so. The fact is that 14 per cent most wealthy already account for 60 per cent of the total income tax take. http://tinyurl.com/ayy6nek The wealthiest one per cent, earning more than £150,000 per year, account for 26.5 per cent of the income tax burden. The allegation that the wealthy are not paying a "fair" amount of tax is patently untrue. The nation needs to have a good think about what constitutes "wealthy". We can't just continually take more and more and more from an ever dwindling group of people to subsidise ever increasing numbers of people who take more from the economy than they give back. We will do what France is currently successfully doing - kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Many of these high earners don't just pay huge sums in tax themselves, they also own businesses that pay vast sums of tax and employ people who all pay tax as well.

    |   3
  • Stokingharry  |  February 03 2013, 2:24PM

    That's my vote lost then

    |   4
  • bath1946  |  February 03 2013, 12:03PM

    You could restrict it to those in receipt of means tested pension credit and for fuel allowance, DLA.

    |   -3
  • rogerh3  |  February 03 2013, 11:05AM

    Or add some additional bands to the top of the council tax scale. At the moment H is the highest, based on a rateable value of £320,000 pa.

    |   6
  • rogerh3  |  February 03 2013, 11:01AM

    Or you could increase income tax or inheritance tax. Both fair, progressive and redistributive taxes.

    |   5
  • MoeXXX  |  February 03 2013, 12:29AM

    I don't think many people would disagree that the state should not pay benefits to people who don't need them. But the big, hence rarely-mentioned, problem is - just how do you means-test every pensioner? How do you account for savings, assets etc as well as income (pension)? You could ask every pensioner to fill in an annual self-assessment form, and create a huge new government department or quango to do the sums, but that would be expensive would need public servants, so obviously cannot happen. Or you could just cut everyone's benefits across the board, like they're doing with income support. I doubt the public would accept that though; it wouldn't be as easy to demonise everyone over 65 as it was to demonise everyone under £15k PA.

    |   7
  • RichardH11  |  February 02 2013, 5:28PM

    There are an ever-increasing number of pensioners, many of them, like myself, much better off than many working people. I think these extra benefits should definitely be withdrawn for the wealthier if there is a simple way of doing it.

    |   3