Winter Fuel Payment

Some of you may have seen on the uk news recently that Mr Paul Burstow MP and ex minister has proposed means testing the winter fuel payment and stopping completly all payment to pensioners living abroad have spoken to Mr Burstow at lenght on this subject here is his letter explaing his views. the section regarding pensioner living abroad may be of interest to some of you

Thank you for your email concerning my proposals for how we protect
people from the lottery of high long term care costs and the future of
the Winter Fuel Payment.

First, let me explain what I am actually proposing.

At present social care in England and Wales is not free and state
support is severely means tested. The State will only start to pick
up care costs once a person has less than £23,250 in savings and
assets. My proposals, based on recommendations from the Dilnot
Commission, would raise this figure to £100,000.

Care is currently a lottery and one in ten people face life-time care
costs in excess of £100,000. There is currently no way to insure
against this risk – which is why it is so important the Government
implement a cap on care costs.

In his report to the Government Andrew Dilnot proposed introducing a
cap on care costs of around £35,000. It has since become clear that
this would be unaffordable in the current climate and so myself and
others have come to the conclusion that a cap of around £60,000 would
be both fair and able to protect those facing the worry and stress of
paying for care.

At the moment someone with £100,000 of assets (such as their home)
faces losing 82% of that in care costs. Under my proposals someone
could reduce that loss to around 37%. This means tens of thousands of
pounds saved for the price of an annual £200-£300 Winter Fuel Payment.
Of course, I would like to pretend there is some pain free way in
which the cap could be paid for but that is not true, and certainly
against the backdrop of the deficit the Government inherited and the
pressures on public finances.

My report for the think tank CentreForum, which was the subject of the
articles and interviews I did, examines a range of possible ways of
paying for a cap and more generous means test. Only after careful
consideration do I recommend changes to winter fuel payments.

A cap will require new legislation and detailed implementation by
local Councils over the next couple of years, so if my proposal were
adopted they would not come in until 2015 or 2016. There would be no
change this side of a General Election.

I know that many people have worked hard all their lives. I also know
that there are a number of pensioners struggling to get by or to heat
their homes. I am in no way suggesting those who cannot afford it
should lose out. For instance, someone with an income of
£16,000-£17,000 a year would not be affected by this and would retain
the payment.
In fact, by linking the winter fuel payment to the Pension Credit it
would help to encourage more of those on low incomes entitled to this
benefit to apply for it in the first place.

I also agree that the 440,000 pensioners who live abroad but who still
receive the winter fuel payment should stop receiving the benefit.
This is an anomaly in the system that is clearly unfair. But
unfortunately this move would only save £100million – nowhere near
enough money to sort out our broken care system.

Second, my purpose in raising the issue is to put pressure on the
Government to end the unfair lottery in care. I believe in sticking
my head above the parapet when I feel passionately about an issue. My
aim was to start an adult and serious conversation about ensuring the
money for winter fuel payments does not just disappear into Treasury
coffers, but is recycled back into the pockets of those who most need
it: the poorest and frailest older people.

I hope that I have been able to explain my thinking and I hope you
will accept that my goal is a worthwhile one: a fairer system of
paying for care and peace of mind in place of uncertainty for
thousands of families across the country.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Burstow MP

Mr Burstow does appear to be correct in his assumption we don’t need the WFP having spoken to numerous people both here and in the UK it would appear we have more than enough money, one lady a retired headmistress who retired here to France in 2000 age 56 told me and I quote, I cant be arsed its to much trouble to search for the site and print off the form, the best one which left me feeling very down and that my life had been a waste was when I contacted old friends in the uk who worked with me when I taught outdoor pursuits part time in the youth and community and still work with young offenders they brought the subject of benefits up in general discussions and the consensus was, those that work or have worked do not need the benefits and shouldn’t get them, benefits are for those that don’t work the question was asked where does the money for the benefits come from, answer, the government where does the government get the money from, blank faces shrug of shoulders, don’t it make yer wanner weep

Unfortunately once the benefits safety net is in place politicians can't escape the wrath of the liberal do-gooders if they try to take it away. A lot of the ex-pats we know seem to be ex civil servants especially teachers who retire on good pensions at 55 when they have not paid enough into the system, they have to be supported by all the people in jobs to have a pension-the last ten years payments being especially important. Thank goodness for the private sector in providing the jobs that are needed.More new companies have been created in 2012 than at any other time in the UK's history many founded by people using family money or putting their house on the line to borrow from the banks. Maybe some of the benefit money could be used to help these go ahead people.

The point about the evolving job market is particularly pertinent. One thing I learned in the 60s was that despite studying, it was always useful to have practical skills in case there was a need to change line of work. I was 'lucky' my father was a builder and compulsory child labour was part of my school holiday and occasional Saturday life until I was old enough to get a paper round, butcher's boy and so on. I have occasionally fallen back on building work as a back up years ago. I will definitely go with you on a contemporary version of that...

When i left school i was told get a trade you will never be out of work with a skill, from the age of 14 i wanted to be an engineer so at 16 on leaving school in 1963 i got an apprenticeship 5 years on vey low wages plus 7 years at college eventually reaching the heady heights of senior technician then service manager my wages when i finally left in 2010 were a giddy £19,000pa that was normal for the trade,my sister in law is a nurse she started rather late in life after first being unemployed for 20 years she now owns two houses has two holidays usually to shri lanka and Mexico Indonesia or an African safari her husband has never worked although he is a plasterer and is known to the benefits investigation team and local magistrate, two unmarried female members of the same family have 18 children between them and have never worked since the day they left school the girl withthe 8 children was told when her youngest attained school age she must start looking for a job her reply was no way and promptly became pregnant, these are not isolated incidents having worked voluntarily in youth and community i came across many such incidents,benefits should be a safety net not a profession but how do you sift out the scroungers

Very interesting but you can never earn enough!. Rewind to early 50's and two brothers, one my dad who worked for the North Thames Gas company and his brother who had a job with the ministry of Agriculture and Fish. He could afford to buy a house at £475 but my dad couldn't so for the next 25 years paid Dagenham council a rent to live in one of their council houses. Not until that nice Mrs Thatcher came along and asked my dad if he would like to buy the house (the council like many others wanted to offload these properties as they were costing too much to maintain) could he get on the housing ladder. Having bought the house for £21,000, 10 years later sold it and moved to Rayleigh where the bungalow he bought is now worth around £180,000.

The job market is constantly evolving and no longer are there jobs for life like my dad had. Youngsters of today need to be trained to adapt to several different jobs/careers and this needs to be started in school with less emphasis on passing exams.

Re teachers and nurses - there is the private sector or they could move to other countries such as Canada and Australia.

Neil, here's an interesting bit of inflation timeline. There is a Home Office middle ranking position that has existed since the early 1800s. In 1852 it paid £312 a year (£6 a week) which was considered a top salary, a century on in 1952 it paid £520 per annum (£10 a week) which was considered a good salary and in 2012 £64,000 per annum (£1,230 per week) (wow, boy would I like that job!) which is now considered a moderate salary. I do not do maths, even with calculators, well enough to work out the pros and cons of pay inflation and so on, but I think it is good illustration of where I think we meet on the point about who is earning 'enough' or not.

The problem is Neil that whilst nobody is forcing them to do the jobs, if they quit they have very little to go to and it is becoming increasingly difficult to replace them, especially nurses and teachers, which is infuriating people because they are being recruited from other countries, fuelling immigration anger. The jobs that pay more are not there, the professions are being hit by reduced numbers of posts as much as anybody else.

Yes, inflation has been allowed to march forward too fast and too much and debt encouraged, but it has created a whole new genre of people (the ones I used are just examples of people in professions, but as you say, the ones usually used, but also rightly so) who now need supplements to incomes. You are right about the retired as well and who knows what will happen when the 1952 on born 'baby boom' lot begin to be pensioners in four years! It is now beyond politics and our left/right perspectives or preferences but deeply entrenched in the economics of no return. One of the problems with modified lifestyles is that some of the basic living costs like travel to work or fuel/energy for the most basic heating are so expensive that no matter what people do they cannot get out of those traps. As the burden of we aged ones increases who knows what will happen.

I probably obtain my 'propaganda' from the same sources as you do Brian, it depends on how you interpret the information so gained and whether you look at it with a left or right wing perspective. The basic fact is we are being paid too much by the government, or paying ourselves too much, when more goes out every month than comes in. Also over the last 2 years more people have reached retirement age than at any other time. As for nurses, teachers, etc., (i.e. the usual subjects always dragged up to support this argument) if they aren't earning enough to support their lifestyles, they, like everyone else, have to modify what they spend their salaries on or go and get another job that pays more! Nobody is forcing them to do these jobs.

The maximum pension is just over £107 per week, WFP brings it up to about £111. For those of us who did not make the minimum number of payments to fulfil the criteria for the full pension the £4 a week is a little help. I spent too many years on non-stipendiary grants, out of the UK and so on to meet the requirements. What I shall receive as of later this year is derisory. I lost my private pension in the crash, which I took out knowing my state pension would be zilch. I have been told I should eventually get a small payback, but less than I actually paid in. However, I have no idea when that might be and given how long I have already waited without news... I have the fortune of receiving German minimum state pension from the years when I spent much of my time there and voluntarily paid social security, etc, in order to have medical provision, child support and pension. That minimum is more than the UK maximum ironically. All together it makes a pittance on which one cannot live and then I shall have to declare it and lose some. Fortunately, I have no intention of giving up work for as long as possible, perhaps to my grave.

Neil, you are reading too much 'propaganda' and not looking at who is actually being hit hardest, the likes of army officers, nurses and teachers are hardly benefits scroungers and far too many of them need benefits above their salaries to afford to live. Fat slob skivers is a think-tank invention to justify cutting benefits universally and whilst they do exist, they are less than something like 2% of claimants.

The Winter fuel payment was a government device to increase the basic state pension but without incurring the costs of annual inflation related increases. You are not obliged to recieve it. Some Tory Ministers suggest giving it to charity but this always seems like being charitable at someone else's expense. Simply give it back to HMG or don't take it. I find it faintly amusing that the very people who complain most about WFP would probably complain far louder if the equivalent were taken off the Basic State Pension (of which in reality it is)

He is right about some people who have worked hard all their lives and have a property then risk losing it when they go into care whilst others who do not are entitled to the same level of care. The winter fuel payment is an anomaly and should be abolished. The main problem in the UK and other Western countries is that people receive too much in benefits - in the UK and America around half receive some sort of benefit. They also do not pay enough tax to support the existing benefits structure. One answer to this is to cut government spending but the coalition has done very little so far with spending increasing. Benefits should be paid only to those who really need them but unfortunately all governments refuse to bring in means testing. There are some very rich pensioners around (mostly those who have worked for the government) who don't need the payment.The top 10% of earners in the UK provide over 50% of the tax revenue and if you tax them more they will move elsewhere which is what M.Hollande is finding. About MP's expenses-they had to submit their claims to a separate office who then approved them. We need to know who these people were.

Education and a large part of the NHS are a mess because of what the trade unions and Labour governments have done over the decades.

Just a note that the indebtedness of the UK will be above that of Spain this year.

John, most politicians on the European continent are so incredibly out of touch with their electorate that it often seems like there is no point. What I find so ironic is that the many people who went to the streets in the late 1960s in large numbers to protest for change have 'vanished'. I was one of them and would still be out there, especially now in the year when I become a 'pensioner'. What has happened to their 'things must change' attitude 45 years ago, have those people given up all hope and just want to allow things to slip back to the state of affairs during the lives of their grandparents?

There may be 'lots' of immigrants, but as a percentage of the UK population they are considerable still less than most other European countries, unless Daily Mail type rantings are the only real information that counts. Most of them NEVER get or even apply for the citizenship status that gives them voting rights and EU citizens, for instance French and Poles, mostly retain their home electoral rights with exception of EU elections and communal polls. So, none of them really do much for the big parties.

As for wanting the 440,000 known plus some, therefore over half a million, pensioners back - with the numbers about to swell fast since I was certainly born at just the very start of the baby boom that continued into the mid-to late 1950s, then I would be careful in their position anyway. However, given all they are cutting back on, it seems they might well be hastening the demise of a number of us who would otherwise be a burden for an average of over 20 years at present with up to 40 years becoming more commonplace.

At distance I am watching the present government undermining education, making heath provision tawdry and demoralising for NHS staff, the entire benefits system almost without any benefits (not meaning money) because the criteria for having support are now so strict that dying, disabled people have to take unpaid work, or face losing them, and all of that whilst promoting the well being (get that!) of the wealthy and powerful. For all of the differences there were in the UK, and despite some of the horrible things like racial prejudice that used to be far worse, I once saw the place as a safe democracy where we were looked after. I am now so glad I do not live there and will not be returning.

Brian is was equally scathing in my letter to him and while not making an issue of it suggested that millionaire MPs not make fraudulent expenses claims for duck houses porn films and fact finding holidays and leadership should stem from the top down not from the bottom upwards i also suggested that with an ever increasing ageing population it would be folly to discount them, while one party may be able to import votes in the form of immigration it would be impossible to import votes in the form of pensioners unless he wants all 440,000 of us back again to clog up the NHS and social services

Patronising, disingenuous prat. That is all I can say about Burstow. How does he know what the standard of living of pensioners abroad is and how does he seriously believe in the morality of stopping people benefits they have paid for over a working life? All for the good of whom? Read about all the cuts to all ages, including pensioners, and he is part of a government that is out to impoverish millions of people who began their lives with a notion of a system of welfare that would cushion them against the hardships that might occur beyond their control or knowledge. The present government in the UK is entirely dismantling any reasonable chance for the disadvantaged, the elderly, the young, the disabled to name a few of the many and at the same time making considerable concessions and cuts to taxes that benefit the extremely rich. If I believed in that kind of thing, I would wish Burstow and his like to go burn in Hell.