Merryn's Blog

Time to rethink non-means-tested benefits for pensioners

Pensioner bonds are effectively another non-means-tested benefit for pensioners. It’s time we rethought the whole lot of them.

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Pensioner bonds. I wrote about these in my last post,but in thinking about how to explain the problem I see with them on the BBC last night I realised that they effectively represent a non-means-tested benefit for the over 65s.

There is already a conversation going on about whether it is reasonable for us to offer the non-means-tested benefits we already do to legions of able-bodied 65+ year olds.

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Winter fuel payments, TV licences, free prescriptions (for the over 60s) and free bus passes for pensioners are all in the firing line. That makes some pensioners angry they feel they have paid in and they should be able to take out.

But given the parlous financial state of the country it does make some sense: pensioners on average are pretty well off; we have the welfare state to provide for those who are not; and all these freebies cost £5bn-odd a year all in.

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My point? That this is a pretty strange background against which to launch what is effectively another non-means-tested benefit for pensioners, and in this case specifically for the better off among them. It's odd.

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