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Conservatives consider cuts to wealthy pensioners' benefits

Wealthy pensioners could face losing their free TV licences and winter fuel allowance as the chancellor tries to cut costs.

Conservatives consider cuts to wealthy pensioners' benefits

The Conservatives have joined their political rivals in suggesting universal benefits for wealthy pensioners should be cut, meaning they would lose the winter fuel allowance and free television licences.

In an interview with the BBC chancellor George Osborne refused to commit to protecting all pensioners’ benefits after 2015. In 2010, Tory leader David Cameron said the party would protect pensioner benefits and introduced the triple lock guarantee on the state pension which sees it rise at the highest of inflation, average earnings or 2.5%.

Osborne told the BBC: ‘When it comes to pensions and pensioner benefits, our society is getting older, we’re going to be spending more on our older people. I want to make sure that is sustainable.’

The chancellor, who will this week announce spending cuts for 2015-16, suggested that universal benefits received by all pensioners would be reviewed after the general election in 2015. These include free bus passes, TV licences and the winter fuel allowance, which is worth up to £300 a year. He said: ‘Of course we have got to look at how we can afford them.’

The government is already trying to curb the UK’s spending one pensioners, which is set to reach 8.5% of GDP (gross domestic product) by 2060. Although it is introducing a more generous single tier state pension of £144-a-week in 2016 it will also require individuals to work for 35 years instead of 30 years to receive it and the state pension age is due to rise to 67 by 2028.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already earmarked universal benefits for review. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said earlier this month that he would look at cutting old age perks, excluding the state pension, for pensioners in the higher rate income tax band. Cutting the winter fuel allowance for higher rate taxpaying pensioners would affect 600,000 61-year olds and save the country £100 million.

He said that the state of the country’s finances meant that ‘it can no longer be a priority to continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the wealthiest pensioners’.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has previously questioned why millionaire pensioners should receive universal benefits and Conservative work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has called for wealthy pensioners to give back the money they receive from benefits they don’t need.

28 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Jun 24, 2013 at 10:37



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Jun 24, 2013 at 10:41

If any politician had the balls (no pun intended) to do it, they would cancel the winter fuel allowance altogether. It was only ever an inducement to win votes.

Anyone suffering hardship could be helped under current means testing structure.

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an elder one

Jun 24, 2013 at 13:41

IF we were allowed to keep more of our OWN money, we would not need pittance benefits.

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alan thorburn

Jun 24, 2013 at 13:45

But what do they consider wealthy ?

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Dislexic Landlord

Jun 24, 2013 at 16:28

FAO of Alan Thorburn

I too would like the answer to that one

I would think an income over 25k would be my prediction

and a retirement age of 70

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Frankie Dee

Jun 24, 2013 at 16:34

Raz benefits in their entirety are a vote winner not just fuel allowances as another poster wrote what do you consider wealthy ? personally if you are going to take off pensioners then no doubt retired politicians fit the wealthy category so let them lose out.

I probably agree some pensioners don't need it I just wish they would get a backbone and cut income support for the lazy and the ones that make a living out of having kids we need an income support mechanism for me and everybody else in times of bad luck not a continuous handout its wrong six to twelve months then nothing... This is clearly HMG running out of ideas to save a few quid..

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J Booth

Jun 24, 2013 at 16:37

I would like to know what income level will put you into the wealthy bracket, and when it will be decided and announced.

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Peter Dawson

Jun 24, 2013 at 17:06

1 Heating Allowance. I will happily give my allowance to an individual I know really needs it. I do not want to give it to the government to squander.

2. TV Licence. I rarely watch BBC, sadly I have to buy cricket, football and most rugby coverage from Sky and BBC news programmes are limited in scope and biased, I would be happy to do without BBC and would resent having to pay for them again.

P Dawson

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Jun 24, 2013 at 17:10

I would suggest that a wealthy pensioner is one who pays higher rate tax on part of their income. In other words the same criteria as used for everyone else. This is a little unfair on pensioners because a greater proportion of their expenditure is on items that increase in cost at a faster rate of inflation, but no matter we will overlook that. We will also overlook the fact that they are the group most affected by low interest rates. Oh and of course we will have to overlook the past twenty years in which pensions of all different types took a real pounding.

In fact there is so much to overlook that unsurprisingly very few pensioners are wealthy. So what will the government do? They will imply that a pensioner with a modest income is wealthy and somehow undeserving. They will of course overlook the fact that any income a pensioner does have, has been more than paid for in the past.

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White Stick follower

Jun 24, 2013 at 18:10

Osborne & Balls are both reported as suggesting that Higher Rate Taxpayers are 'Wealthy', but I hate it when politicians use subjective terms. We should not forget that Osborne, whilst increasing the personal allowance basic rate tax band is reducing the HRT start band, so we may become wealthy if he continues to lower that band,although our income will not have increased.

Overall the Tories are on a suicide course, but who would want Labour, or even worse that non-event the Lib Dems. It is difficult to imagine that by & large middle class taxpayers are wealthy,probably even more difficult for the millionaires in Government, many of whom have never had a real job or done any recognisable work in their lives.

More & more of us will vote UKIP in desperation.

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W D Morris

Jun 24, 2013 at 20:09

"Millionaire pensioners" using bus passes?

It's just politics, but interestingly all of the LibLabCon party now seem to think that threatening pensioners will get them more votes from the rest of the electorate than they will lose from the older section: a very strange calculation!

And you can bet that for every £ saved on 'benefits', two pounds will be spent on the means testing bureaucracy.

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Jun 24, 2013 at 20:39

Can someone please explain how the Governor of the Bank of England can retire on a pension pot of 5 million when the Government has placed a lifetime limit on pensions of 1.25m.

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Frankie Dee

Jun 24, 2013 at 21:00

I'm in my 40s so too young to care really but I do it's part of UK culture to look forward to ones bus pass this is being taken away from all of us perhaps we should have adverts on the BBC and perhaps pensioners should be able to get discounted electric & gas .

I despair with the Uk UKIP it is for me Nigel Farage strikes me as someone that is in touch with realty.

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Jun 25, 2013 at 15:37

I'm due to get my pension later this year and will really value and use the bus pass - I wouldn't mind paying something towards this. But the winter fuel and TV benefits are really worth very little relative to the pension itself, equivalent to less than a month's pension.

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Jun 25, 2013 at 17:36

I do not think that wealthy pensioners are getting the free pass. I know a lot of people who just would not want to get the free pass.

I also do not see that the old are filling up the busses and trains so as other paying public are not finding a space. The busses and tubes are running all the time so why not let the pensioners get the free ride. Pensioners know that at peak hours, the paying public and working people need the ride.

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White Stick follower

Jun 26, 2013 at 10:24

The news yesterday reported that a Poll of pensioners had showed that pensioners did not expect to be exempted from cuts and would not mind giving up some of their benefits. Putting aside the fact that those pensioners who were & are taxpayers contributed and still do, I wonder who was polled? I wasn't.

Today we learn that it is expected that pensioners who live abroad in warmer climates won't get winter fuel allowances and that temperature tests will be carried out to decide where is warm enough for extra heating to be unnecessary. So a wonderful new quango might appear, with no doubt endless monitoring exercises by public servants-probably senior ranked, will be created and I anticipate that MP's will find it essential to travel to warm countries on fact finding expeditions, paid for by the tax payer, to ensure that warm countries really are warm in the Winter. I wonder if 2 weeks in an air conditioned luxury hotel will be necessary for decisions to be made?

As an aside if British pensioners living abroad are disqualified from some allowances, why is it that foreign nationals living here are entitled to family allowances for children still abroad?

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Glyn Jones

Jun 30, 2013 at 09:58

My feelings regarding pensioner benefits are to have decent pension to live on in the first place.I would suggest around £200 per week.then do away with the winter fuel allowance,bus passes and free tv licence to help pay for this,plus to make sure people coming to the uk are able to support themselves with out the need to go on benefits.finally for pensioners to keep more of their pension at source by raising the personal allowance for this group of people.

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Jun 30, 2013 at 10:10

There are a few very simple actions required to reduce pressure on the public purse, none of which involve the the vast majority of pensioners. 1) Reduce the number of MPs to 300 down from 600 plus. 2) Reduce the membership of the Upper house to just 100 Senators. 3) Make MP and Senator expenses taxable as income (a sure way of cutting back on lavishly public funded lifestyles). 4) Require that profits from 2nd homes owned by MPs be taxed when sold. 5) Revise the composition and function of Regional Govt.

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James Park

Jun 30, 2013 at 11:11

I,m with Roger Hulme on this one.The largesse of public sector pensions is grossly out of kilter with the private sector and needs a serious overhaul.But, remember that those making any decision to bring them more into line with the private sector would be affecting their own pensions!

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paul kaye

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:07

I think higher rate tax payers can afford to have their tax increased to offset the benefits they receive.

I cant see if you pay basic tax that you can be condidered wealthy!

The government should also raise tax to all those earning £250000 week !like footballers 90% is my suggestion.My daughter is a nurse and has to work 10 years to earn £250000 ! It sickens me that this government robs the poor yet overlooks people making so much kicking a ball about!

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Frankie Dee

Jun 30, 2013 at 14:01

Some great comments the best thing I read was footballers getting paid loads this is right and was always written on boards like this however since the bankers got onto News at Ten every two minutes they have continued enjoying their lives getting paid even more and they all use tax havens forget your Wayne Rooneys on 250K + per week even playing for a lower league side 15K a week is normal..

I also read Armands comment bearing in mind being an MP is jobs for the boys not much chance of their numbers being reduced I watched Jeffrey no George Osbourns speech the other day I found it hard to believe anything he said was true they are obviously trying to protect our credit rating my favourite " for every job we have lost in the public sector five created in the private sector " I felt physically sick perhaps I was the only person listening or I totally misunderstood if i'm right then the UK WILL follow Cyprus and Greece etc in the future.

I couldn't fathom we need to make 11.5 BLN cuts but we will spend 100BLN on infrastructure and similar large plans may be the wrong thread but can someone enlighten me.

I have gone off the point that was NO pensioners should continue to enjoy the Universal benefits of retirement, cut the immigration bill food coupons not cash and no benefits after one year of not working like every other sensible country p.s the Queen has just got a 7 million pay rise I do like the Queen by the way

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Bob saxton

Jun 30, 2013 at 14:37

Thanks to my bus there is one less doddery old driver with a clapped out heart on the road. Everyone benefits from that and should be greatful.

Bob the electrician

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Glyn Jones

Jun 30, 2013 at 15:17

Reply to bob Saxon you wil be old one day and its proven that older drivers are safer drivers hence cheaper insurance think again bob from a pensioner

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Dislexic Landlord

Jun 30, 2013 at 16:04

FAO Paul Kaye

Increasing taxs for the rich ie Footballers will not raise enough taxes to make any differance

they did have a 50% tax rate and guess what HMRC collected less tax than they did when they paid 40%

WE need to get it into the UK population that lower taxes are the key

First we need to be out of europe and then treat the UK as a Tax haven

Bring the wealth to the UK Starbucks Costa Coffee Google and every other major welth produceing company we can have

Make the uk into Monaco encourage the rich to use us as an offshore island

let the forginers cone here but to walk over our border you need 500K in a UK bank

the only exception is if the person comes here who has a skill which we need let them in

The UK has an oppertunity to leave europe and run our country for the benifit of the British Black or White I dont care

Stop imagration now stop the misuse of the NHS if you havent paid into the system you cant get any thing except Emergancey treatment

Stop benifits from being paid to the feckless who wont work

Nobody of working age should get benifts for nothing unless there ill or Old aged

we need wealth in the UK compaines pay the most tax encourage then to have there Head offices here

Dont drive them away we will regret it we need them more than they need us

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White Stick follower

Jun 30, 2013 at 17:37

Now doubt there will be howls of protests about racism, but it is a fact that millions of people have entered this country, legally & illegally having paid nothing into the national coffers,and once here they happily take money/benefits out. Politicians are, at last, but too late, beginning to admit this publicly.

That aside the EU, via its institutions is a monstrously expensive bureaucracy. The Community is riddled with fraud, and as most if not all of us know, the Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the accounts year on year because of fraud, and no doubt other things which cannot be accounted for. What has the Commission done? Well its cut the Auditors' budget so that will help to reduce identified fraud. If no one looks, no one finds and thus the bureaucrats can happily say that no fraud has been identified within the EU.

What else has the EU done recently- oh yes, UK, that tiny(by World standards) island, has to shut its coal power stations down to save the World from pollution. However, the much larger Germany has been allowed to open up additional coal fired power stations, because Germany doesn't like the idea of nuclear power, although no doubt it will import electricity from France,just as we do.

Ah, but we've found natural gas now, but 'fracking' to get at it, might impact on the countryside so it is claimed. So we can't possibly disturb rural England, but who is pulling the Green lobby's strings- could it be the oil companies?

Overall I think that the World is going mad in the pursuit of greed, and this country is governed by a group of rich, gutless lunatics.

Will cutting a few pounds from pensioners income save our economy? Of course it won't, the amount involved is too small to make any difference.

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john zee

Jun 30, 2013 at 17:52

Come on sheeple, would you please allow a census to be taken in your own neighbourhood and have them suggest what level of taxes you should really be paying?

Take an effing stand! Get some effing back-bone!

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Jun 30, 2013 at 17:55

Have not had time to read all the comments here, but has anyone mentioned the large overseas aid budget? I appreciate that we're not yet a third world nation, but can we really afford to subsidise other countries?

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Bob saxton

Jun 30, 2013 at 17:57

Sorry My post should read,"Thanks to my bus pass".

Bob the electrician

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