DANGERS OF GENEROSITY
It has been very heart-warming to read that people like Ann Widdecombe and David Jason together with others relatively well off, are contemplating, or already are, giving their fuel allowance to those less well off. They say that they do not need it and to help the country to save, feel it only right that they pass their unwanted benefit to others.
Now this is very noble and one does not wish to sound churlish or ungrateful when coming across these reports in the press.
However, it is very disturbing for the pensioner movement as a whole that these good natured folk are by their decent instincts and generosity putting many of the less well off at risk of becoming subject to means testing, something which the Greater London Pensioners and those of the National Pensioners Convention have always fought against. So one wonders if a little more consideration should have been applied when performing public acts of apparent generosity.
If the Government becomes aware that Winter Fuel Allowance is not needed in some quarters, then they will probably come to the conclusion that this grant should be means tested since it is not required by all.
People a little better off should understand that the Winter Fuel Allowance, the Freedom Pass and Prescriptions are the only items granted to Pensioners not means tested. These are an entitlement given freely into their hands once they attain the age of 60. Part of the criteria of the State Pension campaigners is that grants from the Government should protect the recipients' dignity and means testing certainly does not.
These acts of kindness although well intentioned are backfiring in that they attract attention from a Government already looking to cut expenditure from any direction. Thus to give away a benefit of this nature publicly can in fact be a great disservice to a group of people already treated with contempt by a low pension. The State pensioner by his very dependence on this entitlement (notice we use the word entitlement and NOT benefit), is an illustration of need. Many are already suffering from the cold regardless of the Fuel allowance and do not need the indignity of means testing which will result if people better off decide to openly practice their philanthropy. The bible put it nicely with the phrase: "hide your light under a bush". If you are going to donate your allowance, then for the sake of all those depending on this rare gift from the Government, please do it quietly without drawing attention to the fact. That really would be a noble thing to do.