Coffee House

Can you really give back your pensioner perks?

29 April 2013

4:30 PM

29 April 2013

4:30 PM

This weekend, Iain Duncan Smith sparked a furore when a Sunday Telegraph interview quoted him as saying he would ‘encourage everybody who reads the Telegraph and doesn’t need [their winter fuel allowance], to hand it back’. This morning, however, he appears to have offered a retraction, telling the Today programme that ‘I’m neither encouraging nor discouraging anybody to hand their money back’, adding that if pensioners are eligible, ‘it’s wholly their money to take if they wish.’ And his colleague Ken Clarke claimed there wasn’t even a mechanism for doing this.

So, if you normally spend your winter fuel payment on your family’s Christmas presents or on restocking your wine supplies, can you hand it back to the government? And how?

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The DWP does have a helpline (0845 915 1515) which as Duncan-Smith points out has always been on its website, and which allows people to call and ask for their payment to be stopped, either as a one-off, or permanently. If your winter fuel money has already arrived, you can send it back by cheque to the ‘Winter Fuel Payment Team’ along with a letter explaining that you don’t want the money in the future, either.

Or you can, as Nick Hurd recommended this winter, donate the money the government gives you for something you don’t need help with to charity. UK Community Foundations is one organisation actively seeking donations from better-off pensioners in order to tackle real fuel poverty.

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was quite clear this morning that ‘the Prime Minister made a promise and he intends to stick by that promise’. So if you wonder why you’re getting help from the government, it’s up to you to give it back, until 2015 at least.

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Show comments
  • http://twitter.com/LoganDon don logan

    The CFO at my firm earns £130,000 a year and has a free oyster which he uses to come to work on the tube, he reckons it saves him £2,000 a year, yet his assistant who earns about half that has just lost his child benefit.

    Now before everyone gets on their high horse about not paying for other peoples children the whole system is clearly nuts and if we can work out a way whereby richer parents lose their child benefit it simply defies belief that we can’t implement a system where richer pensioners don’t get free travel to work and help with their heating bills.

  • evad666

    Does this cover green subsidies to parents of MP’s ?

  • Patricia

    Let me get this right – OAPs, having paid hefty taxes and NI contributions for over 40 years should give money back to the Government who will then:

    a. send it to a third world country to spend on arms or
    b. give it to a thirty-year old Duane and his string of sproggs
    and who has never or ever likely to hear an alarm clock go off in the morning ?

    • andagain

      If all these people have been giving the government money for all that time, surely it should have massive assets, rather than massive debts?

      Or perhaps they have, on average, been taking more money from the government than they have been giving to it.

      • HFC

        Or perhaps it means profligate government after profligate government has been pi55ing our taxes up sundry walls?

        • andagain

          Who voted those governments into power? It can hardly have been the people who are currently young. It must have been the people who are now currently old.

          • HFC

            What does it matter? Past governments were elected by and composed of people who are long dead.

            • andagain

              Tony Blairs governments were elected by people who are long dead? John Majors? Margeret Thatchers? No pensioner is old enough to have voted for them? Really?

  • Troika21

    Asking the Ancien Régime to ‘hand back’ its hard-won benefits is a joke, right?
    Right?

  • emiller7

    Paid tax and national insurance all my working life, the answer is no!

  • realfish

    It was also suggested on Pienaar’s show, last night, that we could donate our unwanted fuel allowance and the like, to charities.

    Not on your life. Have you seen the extent to which some of those working in charities are coining it in? Some charity fat cats obviously believe that it all begins at home

    The third sector is ripe for some serious scrutiny.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Not much point in giving it to Faith or Hope either – unless they’re your mistress.

    • telemachus

      Depends on the charity’s beneficiary
      CCILS is a good charity to support

      • HFC

        The Coop. Social CCILS has as its fundamental mission the employment and social integration of people with disabilities, through the full evaluation of the human person and the enhancement of the limit which wealth distinctive cooperative action.

        Is that what you mean?

  • Inky Bill

    I have a free bus pass and receive annual winter fuel allowance despite still being in employment and earning higher than the average wage. Do I fell guilty? Not likely while the Lab-Lib-Con artists throw taxpayers’ cash at wasters (hundreds of thousands of ’em, not a tiny minority as Lefties whould have you believe) who spend their days watching HD telly while expecting the State to pay for their huge broods……….or give literally hundreds of millions of pounds per annum to so-called human rights lawyers who use every trick in the legal book to try and stop bogus asylum seekers and Islamic terrorists from being deported from this country. If Shahiba from Bangladesh who doesn’t speak a word of English can receive child benefit for her brood of ten then I feel entitled to a most contribution to the huge cost of heating, thanks to husky-driving Dave and his obsession with useless wind farms.

    • RKing

      And another thing….
      WE HAVE TO PAY INCOME TAX ON OUR PENSIONS WHILST THOSE ON BENEFITS DO NOT.
      I wish I was on benefits getting £28k a year and not paying any tax.
      If you think I’m going to give anything back…….. get stuffed!!!!

      • Patricia

        “WE HAVE TO PAY INCOME TAX ON OUR PENSIONS WHILST THOSE ON BENEFITS DO NOT.
        I wish I was on benefits getting £28k a year and not paying any tax.
        If you think I’m going to give anything back…….. get stuffed!!!! ”

        And again, bang on.

    • Patricia

      “If Shahiba from Bangladesh who doesn’t speak a word of English can receive child benefit for her brood of ten then I feel entitled to a most contribution to the huge cost of heating, thanks to husky-driving Dave and his obsession with useless wind farms.”

      Bang on.

  • Makroon

    Is Camilla Swift really suggesting that some can do without Winter heating, and will instead spend on presents and wine ?
    What exactly is she suggesting ?
    Trivia.

  • Chris lancashire

    I believe this ludicrous Brown giveaway universal benefit costs £2bn p.a. High time it was scrapped and replaced with either a targetted benefit to those who really need it or, at the very least, put on the state pension and thus taxed.
    Is there anything that Brown did that doesn’t need undoing?

    • DWWolds

      The short answer to the question in your final sentence is “no”,

    • Makroon

      Who are these who “really need it” and how will our beneficent state find them ?

    • itdoesntaddup

      His girdle straps?

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