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Duncan Smith under fire for pensioners benefits call

Published on 29 April 2013 08:00 AM

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has come under fire from his own Cabinet colleagues for suggesting that wealthy pensioners should hand back their benefits voluntarily, if they feel they don't need them.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Duncan Smith said that he would 'encourage' those who don't need benefits to help with fuel bills, TV licences or free travel to return the money.

But he came under fire for the announcement from the likes of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Tory minister without portfolio Kenneth Clarke.

Nick Clegg said it was right that some should make sacrifices, but added: 'I think the idea of saying that in the meantime you give benefits and you say, "oh, by the way, can you please give them back", I don't think that makes sense.'

Clarke was similarly scornful: 'You can't hand it back to the Government. I don't think it's a system for doing that.'

Age UK's response

Meanwhile, Age UK's director of external affairs, Caroline Abrahams, said: 'It is open to anyone to decide not to make use of these benefits but when it is suggested that 'wealthier pensioners' should choose to forego them our worry is that some who are badly in need of extra help will feel less inclined to take it.

'Older people on very low incomes sometimes minimise their own difficulties and refer to others they know who are worse off than they are.'

David Cameron has already publicly committed to protecting 'pensioner benefits' for the entire of this parliamentary term, including for the year 2015/6.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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