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Warm welcome for fuel benefit allowance cuts

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

Comments (9)

PLANS to remove winter fuel benefits from well-off pensioners have won the support of a Burton-based elderly people&8217;s charity.

Rachel Coe, chief officer of the town&8217;s Age UK branch, said many pensioners did not need winter fuel allowance payments.

&8220;The money that&8217;s given to some better-off pensioners in winter fuel benefits could be better spent elsewhere,&8221; she said.

Miss Coe&8217;s claims came after former care services minister Paul Burstow proposed removing the universal allowance from at least three in four pensioners.

He suggested the money saved could be used to fund crucial reforms to the care industry. A system of means testing would be used instead to determine who kept the allowance, Liberal Democrat Mr Burstow said.

&8220;Most benefits are already means tested,&8221; Miss Coe told the Mail. &8220;We have a number of clients who get winter fuel payments but do not need them, so they donate the money so Age UK instead.

&8220;But there are people out there who do need this money and it should go to these people.&8221;

The winter fuel allowance is a one-off, tax-free payment of between &163;100 and &163;300 given to people aged over 60.

Last winter it was paid to 12.7 million people at a cost of &163;2.1 billion. Mr Burstow&8217;s proposals suggest giving the money to only 2.1 million of these people, saving &163;1.5 billion.

Miss Coe said: &8220;The Government could use the money that&8217;s saved to enhance care for the elderly because currently there&8217;s a huge gap in care.

&8220;Some people will be unhappy if this benefit is means tested and there are lots of people who need it to help them through the cold winter. But there are definitely people who receive it and do not need it and this money could be spent on other aspects of care.&8221;

Prime Minister David Cameron previously pledged to protect pensioners&8217; universal benefits, but his deputy, Nick Clegg, recently said it was time to &8216;look again&8217; at the issue as part of a discussion about growing care costs.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 10 2013, 3:09PM

    winter fuel allowance should not be given to under 65s as most of them are still working full time and only ban the money surely this could be better spent

  • Burton Mail  |  January 08 2013, 11:38PM

    .."In this day an age if you sit down do the maths you are better off sitting at home then working hard at minimum wage and paying tax. Some of us still choose to go down the WORK way and get HIT by every side just because we have to PRIDE to EARN our LIVING." Clearly your job doesn't depend on your grammar or spelling. Nor does it depend on your ability to "sit down do the math" (sic), or you wouldn't spout such garbage. I was unfortunate enough to find myself out of work recently, and -take it from me - you really aren't better off on benefits. It's a struggle.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 06 2013, 9:24AM

    once again,the savers and hard workers are going to be penalised,Surely the people who don`t live off the state deserve to be rewarded.They can keep the £10.00 xmas box if that will help!!!

  • Burton Mail  |  January 05 2013, 7:45PM

    Why is this woman, chief officer for the towns Age Uk Branch? Most pensioners I know could not manage without the allowance in these harsh economic times and that they have probably paid into the system all their working lives. And doesn`t this woman realise that once this government get away with it once they will keep on lowering the threshold until no-one receives it. Look after pensioners or get another job.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 04 2013, 7:06PM

    I read with dismay the comments made by Racheal Coe regarding cuts to the winter fuel allowence. I am on a pension, I get a reduced state pension and, as I did the right thing by saving for my old age, I also get a small private pension. This takes me just above the pension credit ceiling. I am in fuel poverty as I spend more than 10% of my annual fixed income on fuel. I only allow myself heating first thing in the morning and for 3 hours in the evening. After 8 pm at night I go to bed as it starts to get cold when the heating goes off. During the day when I have no heating I have to go out or sit wrapped up in a blanket because I can't afford to have my heating on. I need this heating allowence to help me pay my winter bill, without it I would not be able to have my heating on at evening. Perhaps this lady should find herself another job as she clearly is not concerned about older people in the fuel povety trap. I guess she is young and is on a good salary. One thing I do agree on is that there are older people who do not need this money but I am not one of them.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 04 2013, 11:58AM

    It is really funny, as pensioners who are well off; have worked hard all their lives. There are many others ways of saving money to enhance the care for elderly. Please stop using this as a reason for not funding elderly care properly. What about saving money from benefit cheats. In this day an age if you sit down do the maths you are better off sitting at home then working hard at minimum wage and paying tax. Some of us still choose to go down the WORK way and get HIT by every side just because we have to PRIDE to EARN our LIVING.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 04 2013, 9:54AM

    The usual Daily Mail/Tory taught responses I see. This silly idea that half the population is on benefits and get everything handed to them on a plate has got to stop. Many of the elderly people that receive this allowance would never have been on the dole, they were probably never lucky enough in life to get a high paid job, or live off their Husbands high earnings!

  • Burton Mail  |  January 04 2013, 8:58AM

    Your article states that winter fuel allowance is for people over 60. This may be but it depends on when your birthday falls. I was 60 2 years ago and will stil not get the allowance until December 2013 as my birthday is 11 days after the 5th July cut off point for the following year, so I will be 62 and 6 months before any payment. The system is typical of the beaurocratic nonsense involved with any government initiative. Just pay it at 60 and get rid of the red tape. I was also due a bus pass two months ago but that also has a backlog and not arrived.

  • Burton Mail  |  January 03 2013, 7:41PM

    As usual the people who have worked, saved, and payed into the system will miss out while the people who have lived on handouts will continue to do so