Lib Dems and Labour accused of “gesture politics” over universal benefits

Lib Dems and Labour accused of “gesture politics” over universal benefits

Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has described plans by the Liberal Democrats and Labour to alter universal pensioner benefits as “gesture politics”” which make no economic sense.

The criticism echoes one of the debates that will be taking place at the NPC’s policy making conference in Stafford on 18/19 March.

Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said they will remove the winter fuel allowance from pensioners with an income of more than £42,000, but this allowance is paid to a household, not an individual.

“What if one of the residents has less than £42,000 – are they going to miss out completely? It’s the same mess that the government got itself into over child benefit.

“It is quite possible that two pensioners with an income of £40,000 each will still get the winter fuel allowance, whereas a household with just one person having over £42,000 and the other just £10,000, will miss out.

“It’s pure gesture politics and has nothing to do with raising money. It’s about breaking with the idea of universalism and attacking the welfare state.

“The Lib Dems have also got themselves into a mess over the free TV licence for the over 75s. If both members of the household are over 75, but one has more than £42,000 and the other doesn’t, how is that in any way going to remove the TV licence from so-called “wealthy pensioners”?

“This is dog’s breakfast of a policy, not sound economics.”