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To wonder why child benefit is now means tested but winter fuel payments aren't.

(201 Posts)
ImagineJL Mon 03-Dec-12 22:52:18

I can see the argument for reducing and removing child benefit for high earners (despite the fact that I am losing money myself), but why not apply the same principle to winter fuel payments? A colleague of mine is a hospital consultant, earning over 100k a year, so has just lost all his child benefit. But he still gets his winter fuel payment.

It seems a bit strange.

Ghostsgowoooh Mon 03-Dec-12 23:28:50

Mcchristmaspants sorry blush

OttilieKnackered Mon 03-Dec-12 23:37:16

I agree with your sentiment. It really annoys me that even wealthy pensioners seem to be untouchable. And that there is almost a mythology surrounding them that they've all 'worked hard all their lives.' Well, actually, quite a lot of them haven't. And quite a lot more are considerably better off than their children and in many cases than their children will ever be.

I certainly wouldn't advocate disadvantaged very old or ill or frail people, but there is a massive difference between the 95 year old woman living alone unable to afford to eat her house and the 65 year old couple both on large pensions who go on a number of holidays each year.

OttilieKnackered Mon 03-Dec-12 23:39:02



lotsofdogshere Tue 04-Dec-12 08:53:05

What a lot of unpleasant vitriol there is on this thread aimed at older people. The removal of child benefit from people earning around the £40,000 mark was wrong because children are our future. I don't know any tory voting pensioners, but I do know many retired folks who have been giving time to campaign against various government cuts. Universal benefits are often preferable to targeted benefits, and the few who get the benefit but don't "need" it, are free to donate to charity, as many pensioners do with the heating allowance. Many pensioners now in their 60's and 70's have been politically active all their lives - think of maternity pay and leave for example, that didn't just drop out of the sky because employers thought it was a good idea.

sashh Tue 04-Dec-12 08:58:19

I'm not sure about means testing, but I think if you live in southern Europe or an EU owned island / terrritory such as Reunion (island next to mauritius, so on the equator) or a caribbean island you shouldn't get it.

domesticgodless Tue 04-Dec-12 09:09:11

Exactly sash- how difficult would it really be to 'means test' according to where pensioners live? And if they can means test all benefits and now cb, I don't see why pensioners are untouchable.

The problem is that every group feels hard done by now and we are being turned against eachother (I know, it's happening to me!!) I have a massive rent bill and my pension has jus been cut; my father has a HUGE final salary pension (he was an academic btw!) which my mother basically spends on FOUR holidays per year. And they own outright a lovely 4 bed house- totally out of reach for an academic of my generation. Eg me smile
And my mother just bangs on about how hard they have worked (she didn't... He sort of did... But not by the standards of people our age) and how hard she has had it.. When the truth is that the baby boomers have eaten and are still eating the wealth of the entire next set of generations smile and they won't leave us anything as they have presided over the dismantling of the welfare state and the nhs. So their care will be paid for by the selling off of their assets.

I don't know about you lot but I will be doing my damnedest to ensure I don't leave the Dcs in the same boat. I never want them to feel I only cared about having fun and left them to struggle.

domesticgodless Tue 04-Dec-12 09:11:19

Tbh I think that history will see the post 60s boom as the biggest, longest and most expensive party in history, with a clean up lasting 100 years.

Btw I do realise a lot of pensioners do live in poverty but not all of them do and it's time the government recognised that.

niceguy2 Tue 04-Dec-12 09:20:00

Pensioners are more likely to be tory voters? Why?

Probably because traditional Tory values promotes self-reliance, hard work, punishing criminals rather than understanding them and living within your means. All concepts which are are rightly or wrongly fast becoming old fashioned views.

Re: Winter fuel payments. Personally I think the best thing to do is stop the automatic payment and get pensioners to apply for it if they want it. There are plenty of pensioners who don't need it and don't want it. It makes no sense to give it to them when we're struggling in other areas. We don't have to means test it. Just make it optional.

glentherednosedbattleostrich Tue 04-Dec-12 09:21:51

The simple fact is that pensioners are most likely to vote in elections, that is why they are avoiding touching their benefits too much, rightly or wrongly.

Personally I think if you are not resident in the UK you should not get additional benefits, only the pension you have paid into, in the same way if your children live abroad then you should not be able to claim CB.

diddl Tue 04-Dec-12 09:29:25

I thought that you had to apply for the Winter fuel payment & only got it automatically if receiving state pension?

Nancy66 Tue 04-Dec-12 09:33:21

Yep - it's all about the ballot box. Pensioners vote. Not only that they are the fastest growing section of our society. Piss them off and you can't win an election.

All parties keep pensioners happy as it's in their interest to do so.

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Tue 04-Dec-12 10:02:25

"I can only assume there's some secret reason for keeping, or they just haven't got to it yet."

It's a clearly stated policy of this government that pensioners should not be touched in the (wrongheaded and self-defeating) attempt to use austerity to cut the deficit.

mum2threesons Tue 04-Dec-12 10:06:05

My Dad gets it, he doesn't need it so donates it to The British Heart Foundation.

ValentineWiggins Tue 04-Dec-12 10:08:21

Because the cost of means-testing every single pensioner would be more than the cost of the payments? Because a LOT of pensioners who actually do need it would rather refuse it than have to fill in the means-testing form? Either because they are too proud to admit to their finances, or because they are uncomfortable with the practicalities of filling in the form? Because a lot of pensioners are vulnerable people who would not be able to cope with sorting out the problems via a call centre if they filled in the form wrong?

TheProvincialLady Tue 04-Dec-12 10:15:41

There are schemes encouraging people who don't need their winter fuel allowance to give the money to charity. I applaud the individuals who do this, but can you imagine the outcry if any other group of people was able to give £200 of public money a year to charity because they didn't need it? Can you imagine what the dail fail would say if there were schemes to enable people receiving disability allowance they don't need to charity? I think the allowance should be means tested and the money redistributed to elderly people who actually need the money - perhaps then not quite so many of them would die of hypothermia and cold related conditions this winter. As many of you say though, this government will never touch pensioners because they are probably their biggest vote, if only because more older people vote than younger people.

MsElleTow Tue 04-Dec-12 10:17:37

My parents get it and they still work. They have no mortgage. My gran died and they have all the money from the sale of her house. They both have a private pension and my dad has a fire brigade pension.

My PILs are retired, they have old age pensions, FIL has a private pension, MIL has a NHS pension, they have the proceeds from two house sales from when their parents recently died as both are only children.

Meanwhile, we are a one income household, I am disabled on DLA sat at home in a draughty house under a blanket, fucking freezing! it is not fair!

TheProvincialLady Tue 04-Dec-12 10:18:23

Valentine most older people seem perfectly able and willing to apply for their free bus pass. We can't make all benefits universal just in case some people are too proud to apply for them, but we can and should make sure that there is a lot of help and support for anyone who needs it to apply.

Latara Tue 04-Dec-12 10:21:26

Pensioners vote more often; for all parties; so no politicians want to upset them too much.

Pilgit Tue 04-Dec-12 10:34:12

It is down to votes - for all parties. OAP's vote in elections, national and local, whereas younger generations have a much lower voting rate than the older generation. The politics of it will only change when people under 50 represent a higher proportion of the vote than those over 50. Until that happens we are an easy target as we don't vote. I always vote, but I know many that don't and I strongly believe I cannot moan about anything political if I don't use my vote. Until we all vote the split of benefits will not be equal (although I completely agree with taking my CB away - it's ridiculous that I get it and I would prefer being able to tick a box to give it to families that need extra help but i suspect that would be impossible and expensive to administer)

SantaWearsGreen Tue 04-Dec-12 13:20:06

I've never met a tory pensioner, always been labour where i'm from (Yorkshire) including my nanna. She does need the payment and it is gratefully received.

I think what David Jason and the like were trying to do last year was a good idea. Trying to get pensioners that don't need it to give it to those who do. I don't know how many did but i'd like to think most would.

givemeaclue Tue 04-Dec-12 13:32:08

Just to flag that child benefit is not switching to a means tested arrangement its just being stopped for individuals who earn over a threshold-means testing would be much fairer!

Voting by age group, 2005

And there you have it.

(The grey part is non-voters BTW)

FrothyOM Tue 04-Dec-12 13:42:08

Agree with those who say it is all about votes and nothing to do with fairness.

valiumredhead Tue 04-Dec-12 13:43:16

Second what frothy said.

ihategeorgeosborne Tue 04-Dec-12 14:38:09

My PIL definitely do not need WFA, bus pas, etc. They have about 1m worth of property with no mortgages. They have very good pensions too. They spend half the year abroad travelling. We lose CB next year for 3DC as single income family. My MIL thinks it's perfectly fair that we should, despite being unable to afford to buy our own house. They both vote tory BTW.

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