Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shouldn't we be reforming, not cutting, Winter Fuel Allowance?

As regular readers will know, I have absolutely zero attachment to the idea of Winter Fuel Allowance being a universal benefit. I am appalled that my husband will get it when we a) don't need it and b) a family with a disabled child won't.

I was annoyed to see this story in today's Telegraph saying that the amount of the allowance was going to be cut, by £50 to £200 for the over 60s and by £100 to £300 for the over 80s.

First up, can we just have some agreement that 60 year olds aren't "elderly". Thank you.

My point is, though, that within the group of people who get Winter Fuel Allowance, there will be some people who do desperately need it - and they will be experiencing a hefty cut - 33% for the oldest - this year.  Wouldn't it have been fairer to restrict it to people over 65 who are basic rate taxpayers unless disabled, and extend to families with disabled members?

David Cameron seems very keen to keep the pledge he made on WFA during the election, but he could actually be harming some of the people it's supposed to help by making these changes.

This is a real opportunity to do something fair which has been lost, at least for the moment. Bob Russell, why don't you ask Cameron about this at PMQs next week?

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