Labour to scrap winter fuel allowance

Hob and coin

Labour has pledged to scrap the winter fuel allowance for the wealthiest pensioners if it wins the next general election.

Under the benefit, pensioners currently receive between £100 and £300, depending on their circumstances, to help towards the cost of heating bills.

But under plans proposed by shadow chancellor Ed Balls, "the richest 5% of pensioners", who pay the higher or top rates of income tax, will no longer qualify for the allowance.

Currently there are no income limits for anyone claiming the benefit. In a speech made by Balls on 3 June 2013, the shadow chancellor said: "We believe the winter fuel allowance provides vital support for pensioners on middle and low incomes to combat fuel poverty.

"But in tough economic times we have to make difficult choices about priorities for public spending and what the right balance is between universal and targeted support."

It is estimated that the scrapping of the winter fuel allowance would affect around 600,000 richer pensioners – around 5% of the total number of people who receive the payment – and would raise £100 million for the Treasury.

"At a time when the public services that pensioners and others rely on are under strain, it can no longer be a priority to continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the wealthiest pensioners," Balls added.

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In his speech, Balls also alluded to a possible reinstatement of the top tax rate of 50p, reduced to 45p by the coalition.

Your Comments

Your sub editor should be ashamed.  The headline is scaremongering  - It's a cheap jibe and should be corrected.   

This plan has not been thought through:
The proposal is that wealthy pensioners should not receive a winter fuel allowance. This will require the setting up of another civil service department to check whether the recipient is eligible for payment that year, or any year.
Every year more checks would have to be carried out as rich pensioners become poorer, and poor pensioners become richer. Lots more form filling!
A great idea for mandarins and empire builders, but soon the savings would be greatly outweighed by the costs of running yet another monster intrusive government department. Add on the costs for those civil servants' index linked pensions and you have the makings of another wasteful and unproductive programme!