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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

What is a "wealthy pensioner".

Ed Miliband has suggested the Labour Party would consider withdrawing benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes from wealthier pensioners.

Pensioners say hands off our benefits (Pic: Socialist Worker)
“Means testing is being used to divide and rule—to pit young people against pensioners. But the real divide isn’t between young and old, it’s between rich and poor.”


We have been here before. What is a "wealthy pensioner". How is "wealth" defined?
Living in a large private house, but having only a state pension as income, can hardly be described as "wealthy". On the other hand, a couple living in private or social rented accommodation, both drawing state pensions and where perhaps one of the partners has income from an occupational pension plus a private pension, would have a far larger disposable income than many. Clearly there would have to be some means of comparison (more expensive bureaucracy) between individuals and arbitrary cut off points (creating anomalies and discrepancies) to manage the "new" policy. This of course introduces only one thing. The "Means Test". This pernicious intervention into people lives has been an anathema to the labour movement, and to many other parts of society for decades and I believe would not be an acceptable measure for receipt of bus passes or winter fuel allowance.