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Hunt urged to clarify minister’s remark about stripping pensioners’ winter fuel benefit


JEREMY HUNT has been urged by Labour to say whether he and Rishi Sunak agree with a minister who suggested stripping wealthy pensioners of the winter fuel payments.

The Telegraph published a recording yesterday in which John Glen, the Paymaster General, questioned whether the benefit should go to all pensioners.

He said that the money could be better spent on tackling child poverty. Now Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, has written to the Chancellor about the comments and demanded clarity more widely on the Government’s stance. Mr Jones wrote: “Pensioners will be deeply concerned about such speculation, especially ahead of winter, and anxious that their incomes may be under threat from this Government.” The Treasury is yet to respond to the letter.

Mr Glen’s comments came at a Cambridge University Conservatives event in St John’s College on Oct 26. At the time he was chief secretary to the Treasury, which is the second most senior ministerial role in the Treasury.

The winter fuel payment ranges from £250 and £600 and is for those born before Sept 25 1957 to help with energy bills. Some 11.4 million pensioners received it last winter, meaning, in theory, millions could lose out if it becomes means tested. The Government’s public position is that the benefit should remain universal, meaning pensioners receive it regardless of their finances.

But Mr Glen expressed interest in changing that approach so that well-off pensioners would not get the payment.

He said: “My mother, she’s not very rich but she’s perfectly comfortable. She just texted me today, aged 75, to say: ‘I’ve just heard about my £500 winter fuel payment’ and [I replied]: ‘You don’t need that’. But finding a mechanism to try and ration that [the winter fuel payment] is very difficult because our HMRC system will look at household incomes. These are the sorts of mechanics of government you’ve got to look at.”





Daily Telegraph