Why wealthy pensioners should lose their free bus passes
Filed under: Tax
The government is planning a clampdown on benefits for those of working age, so why has it comes as such a surprise that deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said wealthy pensioners should lose some of their benefits too.
Clegg has said wealthy pensioners should lose their free bus passes, winter fuel allowance and free prescriptions in a bid to make everyone shoulder a bit of the pain of the government's spending cuts.
Personally, I can't believe that we are still offering free travel and heating allowances to those who can afford to pay for it. This country is under immense strain; we are seeing cuts in the public sector, healthcare, and schools, so why should pensioners who own cars and run huge houses still receive a hand-out from the government?
When we have younger generations struggling to pay off student loans and save for a house, even putting off having families because of affordability, the government cannot ask them to pay for benefits that some older people just do not need.
I'm not talking about those to whom fuel allowance and free bus passes save them from a life in poverty and isolation, people who genuinely can't afford to live without these benefits should of course receive them.
Nobody minds paying for people who are in need, but when their own finances are stretched tight paying for people who are better off thanks to booming housing markets, generous final salary pensions and stable job markets, it is a kick in the teeth.
The only blip in the removal of benefits for pensioners would be the introduction of another layer of means-testing which is never simple or popular. Other solutions have been floated, including taxing benefits and increasing the age of entitlement.
However, there are problems with both these solutions. Taxing benefits could push some people into the tax threshold, therefore reducing their income overall and raising the entitlement age would hit everyone – including those who genuinely need the benefits.
Pensioners will moan that they would not have bothered saving if they would have their benefits scrapped but the truth is that we are all going to have to be more self-reliant when it comes to pensions, and I don't believe that you won't save for your pension just because you won't receive a bus pass.
The fact is there are plenty of pensioners who can fend for themselves in old age, and they should be made to.