Older people's benefits an anomaly - Duncan Smith
Published on 05 November 2012 12:00 PM
The Work and Pensions Secretary has stated he 'accepts' David Cameron's pledge to keep benefits for older people this Parliament but admitted he does not wholly endorse them.
Iain Duncan Smith labelled such benefits - which include free television licences, bus passes and winter fuel payments - as an 'anomaly' of the welfare system.
The Prime Minister promised to protect these perks at the last election and while Mr Duncan Smith revealed that he does not object to them, he claimed the ways in which older people receive benefits is always a 'matter for debate'.
He acknowledged the older generation need 'a little bit more protection and sensibility' from the state as they no longer have the option of earning more money by working.
However, he also pointed out there are certain flaws in the welfare system when wealthy older people have to be asked to hand back benefits that they do not need.
'There are lots of anomalies in the benefits system. We could go almost anywhere to some of the universal nature of some of these benefits,' he said when speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
'The reality is this: the Prime Minister absolutely pledged quite categorically at the last election that he would not be interfering with those benefits, which reassured a lot of older people and I think if the Prime Minister gives his word on something like that I'm happy to accept it.'
Mr Duncan Smith is under pressure to find £10 billion of extra welfare cuts, but appears sympathetic to the idea of cutting back on perks that benefit older people.
He added: 'My view is older people don't have the one option that people of working age have. They can't really increase their income, because they are no longer able to work.
'We do need to have a little bit more protection and sensibility around them. They are remarkable. They gave so much. We need to make sure we do our best by them.'
Copyright Press Association 2012