My election notes. E-Day – 20

by Pseud O'Nym


At last, a politician with enough common sense to face up to economic reality and face down the ‘grey vote’ and have as a manifesto pledge that the winter fuel allowance will be withdrawn from all but the most needy to help fund adult social care.

Oh I’m sorry. What I meant was someone who wants the electorate, possibly young voters to see Teresa May as acting upon their concerns regarding intergenerational unfairness, whilst actually doing very little.

I admit it. I was fooled. I heard the headlines on the radio and thought only good things. Which is, I suppose, the point. Until, like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, the curtain was revealing that there wasn’t a wizard but a small balding man. Only it wasn’t a curtain. It was the combined power of the internet and a few minutes of searching.

Here’s what I found,

 Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) is a tax-free, non-means tested annual payment paid to people aged over the female state pension age. Recipients are not obliged to spend it on fuel. The standard rates are £200 per eligible household where the oldest person is under 80 and £300 for households containing a person aged 80 or over. In 2015–16 it was paid to 12.2 million individuals in over 8.7 million households. It cost DWP £2.1 billion.

And this hidden gem, in the same House of Commons report on intergenerational fairness,

Expenditure on the WFP is falling in real terms as its value is not uprated and the age of eligibility is rising in line with state pension age. In 2016–17 prices the amount spent on WFP has fallen from £2.3 billion in 2011–12 to £2.1 billion in 2016–17 and is forecast to fall further to £1.8 billion by 2020–21. Beyond 2021, the overall number of recipients will rise, as will the proportion of recipients who qualify for the higher rate of payment (for those aged 80 and over). However, as demonstrated by Figure 20, the absence of uprating is likely to prevent total expenditure rising in real terms in the long run.

Or in terms people can understand,

If the WFP were to remain frozen in cash terms in perpetuity, its real-terms value will be eroded by a third over the next 20 years and by a half over the next 35 years.

So just to be clear, the proposed cut is in an expenditure that is falling anyway. So cutting it does away with having to increase it to keep line with rising fuel bills. And because the social care bill will only increase as people live longer, as a gesture it’s that proves that the Conservatives really do put the con in Conservative.