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article imageOp-Ed: The latest quaint ministerial advice to old age pensioners

By Alexander Baron     Dec 27, 2012 in Politics
What should the "well-off" elderly do with their winter fuel allowances? According to one government minister, they should donate them to charity.
This brainwave is the idea of Nicholas Hurd, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. The Eton alumnus and Oxford graduate who is also currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office, lists music amongst his hobbies. What a coincidence, there are two fabulously wealthy pensioners who both hail from Pinner - if they don't actually live there anymore - who also share an interest in music. They are the incredibly talented Tony Hatch, who was apparently last seen eating his Christmas dinner on an exotic beach to the strains of Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, and the somewhat younger and even more talented Elton John, who is said to be number 8 on the Sunday Times Rich List of music millionaires. Shocking isn't it that people that wealthy are entitled to a fuel allowance? Best not ask about the Queen and that Philip bloke.
Having advised "well off" pensioners like Elton and 'Er Indoors to give away their winter fuel allowances, it remains only for Mr Hurd to nominate a charity. How about choosing from this list? It's a bit dated but assuming they each receive the minimum £100 current Winter Fuel Payment, it will take less than 760 such "well off" pensioners to pay the salary of the first CEO here. Assuming of course he hasn't had a pay rise in the meantime, which is always a big assuming for those at the top of the earnings tree.
Someone who would definitely approve of this is Lord Bichard, who if he had his way would see pensioners working in addition to giving up this entitlement. That's pensioners, not "well-off" pensioners.
The suggestion that such benefits be means tested is another step in the wrong direction. By the time they have recruited and trained the people to do this, drafted the legislation for it, backed it up with a small army of benefit snoops, and written the software to deal with the payments, they might just as well have paid every pensioner in the land anyway. Alas, most politicians and certainly most bureaucrats would gladly spend a pound if they can save a penny of public money. If nothing else, it helps justify their own existence.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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