Leicester charity chief's warning over cut in winter fuel allowance for pensioners
A charity boss has warned old people would die if the winter fuel allowance was withdrawn from the majority of pensioners.
Tony Donovan, executive director of Age UK Leicester Shire and Rutland, said old people would pay the ultimate price if a suggestion unveiled by an independent think-tank was ever adopted.
Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow, a former care minister, said in a report from the Centre Forum think-tank that the care system for the elderly could be reformed and financed by paying the winter fuel allowance – between £100 and £300 – only to those receiving pension credit.
This would mean only pensioners surviving on £10,500 or less would receive the allowance, currently paid out to all people born on or before January 5, 1951.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
However, Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday rejected the idea of means testing, insisting he would stick to an election pledge not to cut state help for pensioners.
His intervention came after campaigners warned that cutting the benefit could lead to more winter deaths.
Mr Donovan said: "If they take away the fuel allowance, elderly people existing on just over the pension credit cut-off will not be able to afford to heat their homes. They will leave the heating off and will get ill and have to go to hospital. Some of those taken to hospital will not return home because they will die."
Mr Donovan said he agreed the national care system for old people needed an overhaul, but this was not the way to do it.
He said: "There has to be a major overhaul of the entire system, not just an attempt to save money from the winter fuel allowance. This suggestion would only create another level of bureaucracy which in itself would have to be funded."
He said he agreed there were many affluent pensioners who did not need the allowance, but many of them were already giving the cash back via charities.
Paul and Sue Newman, of Glenfield, set up the 125 Winter Fund to ask pensioners who did not need their winter fuel allowance to donate the money to help other elderly people and other good causes.
Mr Newman said: "To use the pension credit cut-off is too crude a measure. I think there are a lot of elderly people who do not get that credit but are already in fuel poverty and would face serious problems if the allowance was removed."
Mr Newman created the fund in 2010 with £10,000 left to him by his 91-year-old mother, Joyce. The fund, which it is hoped will raise £30,000, is run in conjunction with Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation.
In 2007, thousands of readers backed a Mercury campaign to raise the allowance from £200 to £300. Then Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the campaign in the Commons and the payment was raised by £50 the following year.
In 2009, then Leicester South MP Peter Soulsby called again for the payment to be raised to £300 after the Audit Commission called for it to be scrapped.
To donate to the Newmans' appeal call 0116 222 2205 or visit: