Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I had to laugh when Gordon Brown started the list of Labour's achievements off with the winter fuel allowance.
Soon after I passed my 60th birthday earlier in July this year I received a letter from the government saying that I was entitled to £125 for the coming winter. Fantastic, I thought! It's about time I got something back after 40 years of paying taxes.
Then it occurred to me that there must be an army of civil servants sitting waiting to pay out this type of "benefit" to millions of people who reach the right age but who do not necessarily need it. And yet we hear frequently about all those elderly people who are not receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. Billions of pounds go unclaimed we are told. Why doesn't the system just pay them?
For your information, I will not be sending back my winter fuel allowance but neither will I be claiming (or using) a free bus pass. My local (Liberal) council has had to make 80 employees redundant because - they say - they have not been given the full costs of the free bus pass by central government.