Solicitor Lianne Lodge responds to news of Saga's campaign urging wealthy older people to return their Winter Fuel Payment.
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associate and Member of Solicitors for the Elderly, writes:
I write in relation to a Saga campaign urging well-off people aged 60 and over to ‘hand back’ their Winter Fuel Payment of between £200 and £300.
I think this campaign must be applauded and am delighted big names that are involved such as Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Terry Wogan, Ann Widecombe, Dame Helen Mirren and Lord Sugar. The Winter Fuel Payment is a universal credit, everyone over the age of 60 is entitled to it whether or not they are still in work, millionaires or indeed people who live abroad during the winter months.
The payment was slashed this year by between £50 and £100 – this will undoubtedly hit the most vulnerable elderly hard. If those who did not need the support did not receive it, then there would potentially be millions of pounds available to be redistributed to help those most in need.
There is a concern that should the payment be means-tested then it would discourage those who need it from accessing the funding. That’s why I think this innovative campaign works.
If people could be given the option to ‘opt out’ or ‘hand back’, the Government could save its strained public purse a vast sum. Saga has said 100,000 payments are paid to households with an income above £100,000 and with people working well into their 60s, 70s and beyond, the umbrella term ‘old age pensioner’ is fading fast.
With an ever-increasing elderly population and strain on the public purse, now is not the time for talking shops. It is the time for solutions.
Associate, Pagan Osborne and Member of Solicitors for the Elderly
Queen Street, Edinburgh