Rich elderly should lose benefits, says David Cameron ally

A person sitting in room Reforming universal benefits for elderly people has been identified by Nick Boles as a way to make savings

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Wealthy pensioners should stop receiving free bus passes and prescriptions, an ally of the prime minister is expected to argue later.

In a speech, Conservative MP Nick Boles is set to urge an end to universal benefits such as winter fuel allowance and free public transport.

He wants such benefits to be means-tested after the next general election, in 2015.

David Cameron has said he will not touch the benefits in this parliament.

However, last month Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith suggested that commitment would be reassessed in the run-up to the election.

'Uncomfortable choices'

At an event organised by the Resolution Foundation think-tank, Mr Boles is expected to argue that older people must shoulder their fair share of spending cuts.

He will suggest the introduction of means testing for universal benefits such as free television licences for the over-75s is a viable approach.

Mr Boles will describe a need to "find further savings from the welfare budget" to "achieve stability in our public finances and make crucial investments in improving productivity and competitiveness".

"If we are going to protect spending on pensions - as we should - equity between the generations requires that these cuts cannot only fall on adults of working age," he will say.

Mr Boles is also expected to say: "We need to acknowledge now that we will not be able to continue the protection of these other benefits for better-off pensioners after 2015."

Ahead of his speech, Mr Boles told BBC Two's Newsnight: "We live in an age when we face some really, really uncomfortable choices.

"Politicians have to be straight with people. None of us want to do any of the stuff that I have talked about. We would all love the ship to go rolling on as it has, people getting better off and the state to go on providing lots of stuff."

Mr Boles said it was "not possible" and "not honest" to believe that the current approach to benefits was sustainable where elderly people were concerned.

Geraldine Bedell, editor of Gransnet - a magazine for grandparents - said the problem was in deciding the "cut-off" point when determining eligibility for benefits.

"We know that whenever you have means testing you get a cliff edge and very often the wrong people fall off the cliff," she said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    I am sick of hearing this falshood that the pensioners have not suffered as a result of the incompetence in the financial sector. My private pension was halved as a result of the juggling within the financial houses and I am sure there are many like me. I also contributed into the National Health Insurance for 49 years with the expectation of a free service which includes medication. Angry!

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    Surely we pay our taxes and Nat insurance to help run the country and look after those of us that really need it. All people I know who are over the age of 60 recieving these benefits, readily admit they don't need them and say they wouldn't be bothered if they lost them. Benefits should be for those that need them, not just because you reach 60 which in this day and age isn't actually that old

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Perhaps the politicians who dream these ideas up should consider that these people have already paid substantially from their income to prop up the benefit society that Parliament has created. Surely even a vote hunting politician cannot justify denying someone their hard earner benefits simply because they have worked hard? Will MP's offer their perks and pensions to help the less well off?

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    In principal, I can see the sense in this proposal to find more savings within the welfare budget, but as a pensioner still paying a goodly wack of income tax I feel that once again those who made provision for a better pension after retirement are being penalised. An increase of income tax relief for senior citizens would be more efficient than means testing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    My mother is 75 her annual budget for her holidays is more than I earn in a year she travels all over the world. How does she get a free bus pass, prescriptions, tv licence and winter fuel allowance when she can spend £20K a year on holidays. ps. I don't benefit, my holiday this year is 2 days in Whitby (whitby is lovely by the way).


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