Time to rethink non-means-tested benefits for pensioners

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.

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.

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.