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'Well-off pensioners should donate winter fuel allowance to charity', says government minister
Charities Minister Nick Hurd says he would welcome decision by pensioners to give money away
09:43 GMT, 27 December 2012
Well-off pensioners who do not need their winter fuel allowance should donate the money to charity, a government minister has said.
Charities Minister Nick Hurd said he would congratulate any pensioner who chose to give away the allowance to good causes.
The benefit is worth 200 for pensioner households and 300 for those over 80.
Well-off pensioners who do not need their winter fuel allowance should donate the money to charity, a government minister has said (file photo)
Mr Hurd’s intervention comes at a time when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been pressing for a stop to universal benefits, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes, going to the wealthiest pensioners.
‘Money should not be paid to those who do not need it,’ Mr Clegg said at think tank Centre Forum last week.
But David Cameron has made clear that he is determined to stick to the Conservatives’ general election manifesto commitment to maintain universal benefits for the elderly.
Charities Minister Nick Hurd, pictured, said he would congratulate any pensioner who chose to give away the allowance to good causes
Downing Street last week ruled out any means testing before the next election.
A spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister made a commitment to protect those benefits and he believes in keeping his promises.’
Mr Hurd said that while the Government would honour its pledges, he would welcome pensioners who chose of their own accord to give the money to good causes.
‘The Government is going to stick to its commitments,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
‘But if people take their own decisions that they want to use (the money) for good, of course, as minister for charity, I would support, congratulate and encourage them.’
Former Tory cabinet minister Baron Patten echoed Mr Hurd’s words last month.
In a debate in the House of Lords, John Patten said: ‘Everyone is austerity aware and people who used to think there were free lunches and free dinners now know that we live in a pretty austere world.
‘A time of maximum austerity is the time to get rid of a lot of perks for well-off pensioners which they don’t deserve and don’t need and the better sort of better-off pensioner makes a point of not claiming them – all those TV licences, all those cheap travel, all of those winter fuel arrangements.’