At the recent LOPSG Participants' meeting (Seventh London Older People's Assembly) a suggestion from the Chair was made regarding this payment.
On further enquiry it transpired that many of the better off pensioners may be of the view that this payment should be means tested. The reason for this was that many recipients are now living in Spain and other countries where heating one's home in the winter months is not such a priority because the climate of these countries is such in winter that heating problems are generally precluded.
However, the GLPA is totally opposed to any form of means testing regarding these payments.
If any of the public feel that pensioners are benefiting from a payment which is not utterly necessary because of where they are domiciled, the GLPA believes that the Government can easily redress the situation with the imposition of tax. If an enquiry was put to residents abroad, which is surely ascertained when the Ministry of Pensions despatches or arranges payment, the location of the recipients would indicate whether or not such a payment is necessary. In this case perhaps an adjustment could be made.
The argument was put to the Writer that the Government could save money by withholding payments to residents abroad and this savings would, in turn, be ploughed back into the systems for the benefit of less well-off pensioners.
This idea seems to be pie in the sky, since there has yet to be an instance that any savings the Government makes on Pensioner Benefits is directly put into the system for the benefit of less well off pensioners, and identifiable.
The GLPA remains utterly opposed to means testing of any kind.
The fuel payment is the only benefit which is given to Pensioners without any form of means testing. The Freedom Pass is not completely national so this cannot be said to fall into the category of a non-means tested gratuity.
It smacks of betrayal when other Pensioners invite the Government to means test a benefit. One can only conclude that Pensioners of this mind, must be particularly well off.