In his speech to the Labour Party conference this morning the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said the under a Labour Government Winter Fuel Payments (WFP) would not be paid to the top 5pc of the pensioner population.
This follows hard on the heels of a similar announcement from the Liberal Democrats recently who propose to limit eligibility to standard rate and non-taxpayers.
The Conservatives have yet to finally declare how they would proceed although they have made it clear that the commitment to all the pensioner benefits (WFP, Free travel and TV licences for the over 75s) only stands to the end of the current parliament.
Malcolm McLean, senior consultant, Barnett Waddingham, comments:
“It now seems that the days of Winter Fuel Payments are numbered, at least for better-off pensioners.
“Travel concessions for all pensioners and TV licences for the over 75s look likely to remain for the present.
“Any change to the present arrangement is unlikely to be popular with pensioners, however, given the high costs of fuel and the need for them to heat their houses and keep warm during the winter months. Also effectively means-testing a benefit which many pensioners see as an established right will not be welcome.
“On the other hand it is widely believed that pensioner incomes overall have been shielded from the worst effects of the austerity programme and cannot expect to remain untouched indefinitely. By restricting the impact to wealthier pensioners and maintaining the triple lock on the state pension no doubt all the political parties will expect the political ramifications to be muted”.
We would be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this view. How would scrapping the Winter Fuel Payment affect you? Ed.