In a speech to the Resolution Foundation, the Conservative MP Nick Bowles has suggested universal winter fuel payments – as well as free bus passes and free tv licenses – should be stopped in favour of a means-tested approach.
Mr Bowles said such changes would be necessary if the government is to make inroads into the budget deficit, and that universal benefits should be withdrawn from more affluent pensioners after the 2015 election.
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 which helps people over the age of 60 to pay for their heating in the winter.
The news follows the government’s decision last year to cut the Winter Fuel Payment by £100 for the over 80s and £50 for the over 60s in its 2011 budget, as well as the more recent ‘granny tax’ that reduced tax allowances for pensioners.
Do you qualify for Winter Fuel Payments?
If you live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland and are aged 60 or over you’re likely to qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment. You’ll need to claim your Winter Fuel Payment if you aren’t receiving at least one of the following benefits during the week of 17-23 September 2012:
- State Pension
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Benefit
- Carer’s Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Graduated Retirement Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Industrial Injuries Benefits
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- War Pension
- Widow’s Benefit
If you’re getting Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Child Benefit only you’ll need to put in a claim. You’ll also need to claim if you have received the Winter Fuel Payment before but your circumstances have changed.