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Winter Fuel Allowance

(38 Posts)
AlisonMA Wed 06-Jun-12 17:43:46

It has been suggested that the better off should not be given the winter fuel allowance. Would you tick a box to say you don't want it? If a cap were to be put on earnings to receive it how much should it be?

wisewoman Wed 06-Jun-12 17:49:59

I wouldn't give it back to the government. They would only spend it on nuclear weapons! I am in the fortunate position of not depending on a heating allowance but I give it to a charity for homeless people that I try to support when I can.

I think if it were means tested it would cost so much in administration - whole departments would probably spring up to sort it out. I have turned in to an terrible cynic.

Also the trouble with putting a cap on earnings is that what people earn isn't necessarily a guide to how well off they are. Outgoings can vary very widely too.

nanaej Wed 06-Jun-12 17:53:11

My DH & I are lucky enough at the moment to have pensions (plus p/t income) so really feel the fuel allowance could be better spent elsewhere. We have given it to charity. If we could opt out year by year that would be good for us so if we got to a point when we needed it we could opt back in. Trouble is some people are proud and may tick the opt out box when they could really use the payment!

vampirequeen Wed 06-Jun-12 19:34:29

If the fuel allowance becomes means tested in any way there will be a grey area of people who desperately need the help but will be just above the cut off point. I'd rather it was paid to everyone rather than those people miss out.

AlisonMA Thu 07-Jun-12 09:07:33

It seems the government are considering the options but when discussed on the radio yesterday they were talking about people with incomes about £100,000 so, if that were the cutoff point I think there are so few penshioners getting that much that it would cost more to administer than they would get back. I suspect it has been floated as an idea to see what reaction they get.

My stance on this is that we all worked very hard and paid our taxes so should get something back when so much is spent on not only the needy but also the feckless. I would prefer a campaign to persuade those of us who don't need it to give to charities who will probably spend it more sensibly than government.

absentgrana Thu 07-Jun-12 10:24:43

Perhaps the logical thing would be to include it as part of taxable income. That way, the poorest pensioners who, by definition, don't pay income tax would benefit the most. That would also have been the easiest way forward with child benefit.

vampirequeen Thu 07-Jun-12 11:22:40

I agree with AlisonMA. People have paid their dues and now it's time for them to get something back. The Winter Fuel Allowance costs £2billion every year.

Perhaps the government should look at MPs and Lords subsidies before it attacks the pensioners. For example the restaurants in the Commons are subsidised to the tune of £5.8 million and the Lords £1.4 million every year....that's just for food and staff...the buildings, utilities and repairs are covered by another department. Let the restaurants be run as businesses and let the MPs and Lords pay the full cost.

Also did you know that the Lords get an allowance of £300 a day tax free just for attending....i.e. walking into the building.

Food is just one example. I'm sure there are lots of other subsidies too.

gangy5 Thu 07-Jun-12 12:33:29

Means testing for the fuel allowance would be counter productive, as has already been said, as the cost of implementing it would outweigh that which is saved.

As vampirequeen states - we would all be pleased to see MP's and Lords perks cut. Used to be the time when these sorts of jobs were done by worthy people who simply thought it an honour to serve their fellow men. Now they all appear to be getting out of it what they can.

Lets start the economies by reducing by 50% the numbers in the Lords and Commons.

As for the fuel allowance - don't leave it for the mandarins to spend!!

Mishap Thu 07-Jun-12 13:54:34

We can manage without ours and we spend it on things for the children - they are struggling young families getting a poor deal - I feel it redresses the balance a bit.

gangy5 Thu 07-Jun-12 14:20:38

That's a good idea Mishap . We also support ours as much as we can.

Elegran Thu 07-Jun-12 14:33:32

I have often thought that there should be a way for people who have reason to thank the NHS for the care they or a loved one have received (and contrary to what you often hear, there are many people with reason to be grateful to them).

I envisaged a completely separate fund, which would accept donations or legacies without identifying the donor to the main organisation which gives care and treatment, so that there could be no question that anyone was buying preferential attention, or giving a reward after receiving it.

The offer of winter fuel payments could include a note that if anyone felt that they did not need it, they could donate it to this fund.

gillybob Thu 07-Jun-12 14:35:28

I don't really agree with the winter fuel allowance being given to all. I know plenty of pensioners who are far from poor and spend their WFA on treats when surely that defeats the very object of what is was supposed to be about.

I agree with Mishap there are many struggling young families (mine included) who can't afford to keep their home warm in the winter.

mollie65 Thu 07-Jun-12 18:37:59

the winter fuel payment is per household so it would be difficult to tax it on an individual basis.
as it is ONLY £200 per year (which is about £4 per week for a household) it is not mega generous to those who need it. I feel the cold and being retired probably use more heating than younger ones and as by definition my heating/utilities is over 10 percent of my income (single pensioner) I am theoretically in fuel poverty. The WFP is very very welcome and my concern is that the powers that be would restrict it those on pension credit and those that fall just outside this would lose it.

vampirequeen Thu 07-Jun-12 18:52:23

My mum is in the grey area because she has a small private pension as a result of my dad paying into a scheme. My aunt and uncle didn't save. They went out every weekend, had a car and holidays. My aunt would automatically get the payment as she only has her state pension.

It wouldn't be fair if my mam is penalised for being thrifty and saving for the future.

POGS Thu 07-Jun-12 20:17:53

Like the Granny Tax, it is all about common sense and we are in a massive financial problem, everything has to be looked at.

I am very heartened by some of the comments, I too think my children could benefit from the fuel allowance rather than myself. It is all relative as to what the proposal would be, I don't know that there is a firm proposal yet is there?. I for one think that if you are reasonably comfortable then you could forgo winter fuel allowances. Having said that I sometimes wonder what individual people think.I find quite well known women who have been paraded around the media on one hand say they would willingly give up their Winter Fuel Allowance but they had a hissy fit over Granny Tax.

All I know my dad is on Penion Credit Guarantee and he received £300 and £25 a week cold weather payment this year. I don't think he will be touched by the propoal so those less well-off will be cared for as usual, I hope!. If poor pensioners were to be touched then even I might get a hissy fit on.

AlisonMA Fri 08-Jun-12 11:06:59

Vampire I feel for your mother's situation. My FiL was in the same situation and found it hard that others on his council estate who had spent all their lives were being given help when he had saved hard into a pension. He used to go to the pub once a week but said they went every night.

I think the only way round this is to give all pensioners the same amount, enough to live on, and then those who had saved would be deservedly better off. A lot would be saved in administration.

Most of the youngsters in our office didn't join the company pension scheme because they said it wasn't worth it as the government would look after them in their old age. If there were a clear benefit to joining a pension scheme I think more would do it.

POGS as I said earlier, I think it is just being thrown out to see what the reaction is. Maybe they don't want to make it a fact and then have to retract - again!

FlicketyB Fri 08-Jun-12 13:49:38

I find all the bells and whistles (Fuel Allowance, free prescriptions, bus tokens etc etc) given to older people with their pensions degrading and patronising. It suggests that the government thinks that we poor dears are incapable of managing our finances so that we have to be given little dribbles of extra ring-fenced money for particular purposes to make sure we dont muddle it up and spend it on bingo instead of buying prescriptions or bustrips to see our grandchildren or are incapable of paying fuel bills by monthly direct debit.

I would like the government to scrap all the bells and whistles and simply up grade the state pension by, say, £10.00 a week and increase the Minimum Income entitlement by an extra £5.00 or £10.00 over and above that and leave us to budget our money as we have always done. If the recklesss and feckless elderly ( and they do exist) spend their money in a way that means they cannot afford bus tickets or prescriptions, well that is their problem, as no doubt it was when they were younger.

The cost savings from reduced administration costs would probably recoup all the money lost on the recent tax U turns.

Barrow Fri 08-Jun-12 14:14:15

Its very easy for those of us who have been able to save and pay into a private pension to say the WFA should be scrapped or means tested. This doesn't take into account those who, because of low incomes or illness, were not able to save. I think the current system should remain in place and those of us who feel they do not need the WFA should just pass it onto either a young family who do, or give it to a charity. If it was means tested the cost of administration would far outweigh the savings.

I like the idea of there being a ring fenced fund which the money could be paid into and then used to perhaps buy equipment for community groups or just as a hardship fund which local people could apply to if they were unable to meet their fuel bills.

crimson Fri 08-Jun-12 14:38:35

As someone who didn't expect to be divorced by the age of 60 and then not entitled to my old age pension till I'm nearly 62 I'm quite happy to accept anything that's offered to me. At the end of the day, all money gets spent and goes back into the economy somewhere. As for prescriptions, although you can get a prepayment certificate for £100 + a year, anyone paying for each script individually would pay out hundreds if they were on several items a day.

AlisonMA Fri 08-Jun-12 15:07:24

The trouble with having a fund into which we donate our WFA is that the government would start taking it for granted and reduce funding accordingly.

I think there may be another reason for free presecriptions related to long term illnesses which are likely to be increased as one gets older. Whatever your age if you have certain things wrong e.g. diabetes you get free prescriptions so perhaps it was felt appropriate for older people to get it too. If medication is free people are likely to take it but there has been some research done which suggests that some people only buy some, or even none, if they feel they cannot afford it.

FlicketyB Fri 08-Jun-12 15:22:31

Yes, but if all these benefits were scrapped and replaced by a boost to the basic pension with an even bigger boost for those on Minimum Income Guarantee, all those in need would have the extra cash to pay for bus fares, prescriptions, fuel bills.

As it is take up of these benefits is very patchy. Bus tokens are no good if you live in a rural area with no buses or, like me, are travel sick on buses, particularly local stop start buses. If you are fortunate to have good health free prescriptions are of no advantage and when I worked with older people I rarely met one who did not spread their fuel bills over the year by paying by monthly direct debit so the winter fuel payment would be better paid as a weekly pension supplement of £4.00 than paid as a lump sum of £200 just before Christmas. So why not cancell the lot and replace them with a big boost in the weekly pension?

AlisonMA Fri 08-Jun-12 15:46:48

flickety I think that would be a vote winner.

Annobel Fri 08-Jun-12 16:11:50

My basic pension would have to almost double to cover the monthly cost of my current prescriptions!

AlisonMA Fri 08-Jun-12 16:19:37

That's why it would be unfair Annobel because I was getting all of mine free before I retired because of a long term need.

Annobel Fri 08-Jun-12 17:07:15

So was I Alison. I had all prescriptions free before I retired just because I needed thyroxin which I could have afforded to pay for at that time.