According to Iain Duncan-Smith, the work and pensions secretary, wealthy elderly people who do not need benefits to help with fuel bills, TV licences or free travel should return the money.
The first question is "Who are these 'Wealthy elderly people'?", as the definition will obviously vary according to one's perspective. I might be considered wealthy by someone on the basic state pension as I have an additional pension from my employment and a small amount of savings. But from my perspective, I am relatively poor in that there are many out there with far bigger pensions and receiving retirement lump sums far in excess of my life's savings.
The next question is "Why should we pay it back?". The wealthier you are, the more taxation you will have paid (and probably still are paying), so one is hardly scrounging a benefit at the expense of others.
Looking at these benefits.
My wife and I jointly receive the winter fuel allowance; were we both single with our own homes, however small, we would each receive the full amount. With government inspired rising fuel prices due to their so-called "green" policies, we need every penny that we can get and I certainly see no reason to give it back whilst the government is pursuing an environmental policy which is contrary to my (an I believe, the country's) best interests. If I was to give the money away, I would give it to our local parish church which is clearly in need of assistance towards heating the church during the winter months. Now, if I gave it at gift-aid, they could reclaim the notional tax, now there's a thought!
When it come to the TV licence, again, we only get one free licence, and it is BBC money, rather than government's money, and I would not be prepared to pay back a brass farthing to help that bloated overpaid left wing organisation.
Finally, the free travel. This sounds good, but as far as we are concerned is of little use. The nearest bus stop is about a quarter of a mile away, and whilst the bus stops outside both the Tesco and Sainsbury supermarkets, it is of little practical use, as the uphill walk from the bus stop with our shopping would be a killer. Similarly visiting our daughter by bus is theoretically possible, but would take about two hours as compared with some 15 minutes in the car. In fact I used the bus exactly twice in the past year to visit the local hospital, largely to avoid the parking charges in the £1 per hour pay and display car park. I usually costs a fiver as the NHS rarely manages to keep appointment times, but is very ready to issue a fine if you are delayed. (perhaps there is collusion between the appointments staff and the car park manager to maximise their profits!)
No, I don't think that I am receiving unjustified benefits; all they are doing is helping to pay for some of the extra costs that result from government policies.
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