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.

OhlimpPricks Tue 04-Dec-12 14:43:53

If your consultant friend is earning 100k then he is paying plenty of tax.
Apparently if it were to be means tested the cost of doing that would outweigh any savings.
A pensioner may only claim for 10 years, a family with children spread out, may span over 20 years.

ihategeorgeosborne Tue 04-Dec-12 14:54:04

Also, as far as I'm concerned pensioners have much lower outgoings than families with children. They generally have no mortgage or rent and only have themselves to feed and clothe. If they want to means test universal benefits then fair enough. However, do it fairly, not in the cack-handed, blatantly unfair way in which they have cut child benefit. I would have been far more accepting of this cut if I believed we really were all in it together.

LettyAshton Tue 04-Dec-12 14:56:00

The trouble with means testing is that you penalise many people who have saved hard or have a small pension.

If you remove winter fuel allowance, bus pass, free prescriptions etc from person A on a pension of £10k, then person B who has nowt but gets all these perks is going to be better off. It's the same problem with paying for care fees: you end up in the same place in an identical room to someone who has nothing and you have to sell your house.

I do, however, completely agree that the current crop and the upcoming retirees are shafting the rest of us. Fil has an eye-wateringly generous public sector pension (and he is the meanest git on the planet).

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 04-Dec-12 16:33:47

I agree with Letty, there are downsides to means testing and it wouldn't be fair to penalise those who saved hard for a decent pension by denying them the WFA when it would still be given to others who didn't bother paying into a pension and are just receiving the state pension.

It is already unfair that some own who ploughed all of their earnings into paying a mortgage and into maintaining their home has to pay for their own care fees while someone who chose to rent and spend their earnings on holidays or luxuries ends us with exactly the same care.

It would be wrong, in my opinion, to implement a policy that discouraged savings, home owning and putting money into a pension. It is not right that the government should only ever do anything to help poor people but not anyone else. Everyone deserves fair consideration from their government, especially by the time they are drawing a pension.

Those pensioners that really don't need their WFA have probably paid their fair share of tax over their working lifetimes, are likely to put the money back into the economy anyway, and have the option of giving it to charity. I don't think that giving the money to charity should be discouraged, because charities are already picking up a lot of the slack from government and providing services they shouldn't need to. It's not as if the WFA being cut will benefit anyone, whereas if it stays, at least charities and their beneficiaries see some good come from it.

zukiecat Tue 04-Dec-12 16:48:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 04-Dec-12 16:54:50

Freddos - "ploughed all of their earnings into mortgage... vs renting and luxuries"

I don't think the maths on that really adds up, off the top of my head.

Not sure of the historical position, but renting is currently more expensive than a mortgage on the same house. Plus rent increases over time; mortgage decreases as you pay it off.

So where are renters getting all this spare cash to blow? confused

PolkadotCircus Tue 04-Dec-12 17:03:57

Because a lot of Tory voters are pensioners.

I think it's appalling to be frank.Sorry we've all worked bloody hard for years,OAPs don't have the monopoly on hard work(although many think they do).Many,many pensioners are very well off,some are rich.

I know soooooo many people with wealthy parents completely oblivious to the cuts the rest of us are enduring hacked off about this.We won't have a state pension,we'll have to help our dc out with uni living expenses(the baby boomers had it all paid for)and we're losing CB(again baby boomers had it all).

My parents have just booked their years worth of holidays with the normal South of France,city breaks and long haul,we have friends who don't even live in the UK in the winter.In laws go on one cruise after another WFA will go towards a bar bill I've no doubt.Their houses are permanently like Barbados as they're loaded,mortgage free,had no cuts etc.

Our heating bill has just doubled so the house will resemble a fridge further on into winter but hey ho as long as Dave's voters get looked after.angry

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 04-Dec-12 17:08:39

I don't know if the maths will add up tbh, but I do t think renting is vastly more expensive than buying, not if you have a landlord that does what they are supposed to.

Renters don't have to worry about paying buildings insurance, plumbing/heating insurance, replacing bathrooms, kitchens, carpets, boilers, radiators, gutters, water pipes, water tanks, maintaining the building itself, redecorating. And probably other things, but that's just off the top of my head.

There are negatives and positives to both renting and buying, and while I realise that renting is expensive, so is home owning! There is more to it than just paying off a mortgage.

thegriffon Tue 04-Dec-12 17:43:04

winter fuel payment is £200 a year for pensioners under 80. It wouldn't be worth means testing because any savings would be swallowed up in administration costs.
Child benefit is a lot more- £1000 a year for first child.

TwitchyTail Tue 04-Dec-12 18:40:00

My father, with his ridiculously generous pension, uses it towards his annual holiday in the Maldives envy I think he's misunderstood what "fuel" the payment refers to...

But I agree with thegriffon - the costs of means-testing the payment would be higher than just giving it to everyone.

expatinscotland Tue 04-Dec-12 18:47:28

Attach to those in receipt of pension tax credit, the system of those recipients is already in a HMRC database. Cancel it for everyone else. There goes the 'it's too expensive to means-test' argument, which, btw, used to be used about child benefit, but the Tories went and means-tested it, anyway.

Cancel ALL free bus-travel for over 60s. They have to go into their local bus services' office and show ID. So they can turn up with proof they are in receipt of Pension Tax Credit or DLA or other qualifying business, or stump up like everyone else.

We're all in it together.

littlemisssarcastic Tue 04-Dec-12 18:48:08

My parents are both pensioners. Neither of them need the WFA.
My father barely notices he's received his, and my mother complains every year that it isn't more, then spends every penny on Christmas presents and food.
Mind you, my mother complains that her pension isn't enough all year round and constantly says she should be on at least £300 a week. She never paid into a private pension, yet when her housing benefit, council tax benefit, pension and DLA are taken into account, she is on more than £300 a week.
I have tried to explain this to her to appease her but her answer is always 'but i don't include my housing benefit or my council tax benefit, so I'm only on £200 a week.
I don't begrudge her the money, but it's annoying when she purposely chooses to ignore a considerable part of her income for the purposes of pleading poverty, yet when i say I claim tc's because I can't pay all of my bills from my £1k a month pay, she is quick to say 'well that's more than I'm getting and I manage fine!'
grrrr

expatinscotland Tue 04-Dec-12 18:48:38

'Renters don't have to worry about paying buildings insurance, plumbing/heating insurance, replacing bathrooms, kitchens, carpets, boilers, radiators, gutters, water pipes, water tanks, maintaining the building itself, redecorating. And probably other things, but that's just off the top of my head.'

Yes, because no landlord ever factors all those costs into the rent they charge hmm.

littlemisssarcastic Tue 04-Dec-12 18:51:16

Should probably also mention that my mother spent most of her life working part time and didn't pay enough to qualify for a full state pension. She is topped up with pension credits and was not receiving DLA until she was mid 50's. Just to clarify.

littlemisssarcastic Tue 04-Dec-12 18:53:51

outraged My landlord has never redecorated for me. That is my responsibility as a tenant.

FlourFace Tue 04-Dec-12 18:55:05

Because old people vote?

Viviennemary Tue 04-Dec-12 18:58:05

I can see why people think it's unfair. But I don't think there's that many pensioners who earn over £50,000 a year. I think if the Tories get in again it might be means tested. But I wonder where cut off point would be.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 04-Dec-12 18:59:15

Littlemisssarcastic, that may be your experience, not all landlords expect that, especially in the type of properties that attract short term tenants. Does your landlord also expect you to pay for all the other things I mentioned too?

Anyway, landlord v renters isn't the point of the thread. The point I was trying to make is that it's unfair to penalise people who have saved for their retirement.

expatinscotland Tue 04-Dec-12 19:00:24

'The point I was trying to make is that it's unfair to penalise people who have saved for their retirement.'

How are they being penalised? People who earn over a certain amount don't get handouts from the government, but that's different for pensioners?

MyWaywardGirl Tue 04-Dec-12 19:00:38

I agree with all the previous posters who said it's all to do with not wanting to lose votes rather than keeping things fair. I don't think it's limited to just the Tories though, I'm pretty sure a higher proportion of older people vote regardless of their political position.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 04-Dec-12 19:05:13

If they are not rich, and are just average, then they are being penalised because they are not receiving help from the government when others who had exactly the same amount of earning potential but who made different choices are receiving help from the government.

expatinscotland Tue 04-Dec-12 19:15:04

'If they are not rich, and are just average, then they are being penalised because they are not receiving help from the government when others who had exactly the same amount of earning potential but who made different choices are receiving help from the government.'

How do you know they all had the same earning potential? What a strange concept. And plenty of us who are not eligible for government handouts are not rich, just average. So? It's a fallacy to believe that anyone who isn't rich is that way because of choices.

I don't see why they're any more exempt from cuts than any of the rest of us.

We're either all in it together or we're not.

expatinscotland Tue 04-Dec-12 19:17:04

How is it a penalty to not get handouts from the government? Gah, I'd be glad not to have to constantly prove myself to some Computer Says No desk jockey.

PolkadotCircus Tue 04-Dec-12 19:20:45

Pensions used to be uber generous,the pensioners in my family amassed fab private pensions doing very little with their final salary etc.I don't think todays pensioners made painful choices tbf paying into private pensions.We would need to put in nearly all our salary to get the same,whilst helping our dc with education and housing on top of extortionate fuel prices necessary to commute,huge house prices,high food bills,high heating bills etc.

When I was growing up we had a waaaay better quality of life than my dc have now.

EdgarAllanPond Tue 04-Dec-12 19:23:22

grey vote, innit.

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