Universal pensioner benefits to stay
Published on 04 February 2013 11:30 AM
The government has announced that people of pensionable age will continue to receive universal benefits for nearly a year after the general election in 2015.
There had been rumours that the latest round of spending cuts could see benefits like the winter fuel allowance become means-tested, but the previous pledge to keep them open to everyone has now been extended by 11 months to April 2016.
The policy to give all pensioners a winter fuel allowance, free TV licences and bus passes and other benefits was included in the Coalition Agreement in 2010 after being part of the Conservative party's general election campaign.
And, although it has come under some pressure from both Liberal Democrat and Conservative ministers, a spokesman for the Prime Minister has confirmed that the benefits will remain.
'As regards pensioner benefits, the prime minister has very clearly set out his promises on this. He stands fully behind them,' he said.
'Pensioner benefits are fully protected for the entirety of this Parliament - including for the year 2015-16.'
More spending cuts planned
Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants to make £10bn in additional savings to the welfare budget and discussions have just got underway regarding details of the spending cuts for the 2015-16 financial year.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has indicated that wealthier people can afford to 'sacrifice' some benefits before those less well off are hit and many others have hinted that universal benefits for pensioners should be among the first to be changed.
However, the government had already been adamant that such benefits would be protected until the next general election in May 2015 and now it has revealed that they will remain in place for almost a year past that date.
Copyright Press Association 2013