Iain Duncan Smith urges well-off pensioners to forgo certain benefits
Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has strongly urged pensioners that are better off to return their taxpayer funded benefits to the state.
Iain Duncan Smith has stated that he “would encourage” pensioners who are able to afford to purchase bus tickets, television licenses and heating, to return the money that is provided to them for these purposes to the state.
He has recommended that the money be repaid to the Treasury, saying: “It’s up to them, if they don’t want it, to hand it back.”
This suggestion comes after Mr Smith’s remarks that the £2 billion a year payments scheme, which is currently universal, to be an “anomaly”. Speaking to The Telegraph, he said that although there were currently “no plans” to change the system, those who did not need the money they were given should return it.
David Cameron has already prevented the efforts of ministers such as Mr Duncan Smith to prevent benefits being paid to all pensioners regardless of how much money they may have.
The comments made by Mr Duncan Smith have caused confusion and controversy even within his own party, with the Department of Work and Pensions reportedly saying that Mr Duncan Smith was not announcing policies that would be implemented but simply informing pensioners that the money could be repaid.
Some have strongly disagreed with these suggestions. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg agreed that while “very wealthy, maybe multimillionaire pensioners” should give back money they do not need, a system of repayments to the Treasury was not advised.
Speaking to the BBC, he added: “I think the idea of saying that in the meantime you give people benefits and you say ‘oh by the way can you please give them back,’ I don’t think that makes sense.”