Ed Balls: Labour would scrap winter fuel payment to richest pensioners

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Ed Balls has suggested should Labour return to power at the next general elections, it would scrap the winter fuel payment to the country's richest pensioners.

The shadow Chancellor claimed the move could save as much as £100m each year for the Government.

Currently, the winter fuel payment is a tax-free hand out of between £100-£300, given to everyone deemed eligible born on or before 5 July 1951.

Under the planned changes however, pensioners aged over 75 and earning more than £32,000 a year would no longer be entitled to such payments.

Mr Balls believes this would affect around five per cent of those currently receiving the handout, or around 600,000 people. He also believes it would save the Treasury more than £100m a year.

Mr Balls said: "When our NHS and social care system is under such pressure, can it really remain a priority to pay the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners.

"When the public services that pensioners and others rely on are under strain, it can no longer be a priority to continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the wealthiest pensioners."

While the winter fuel payment is exclusively for pensioners, there are over schemes including the Green Deal and its sister scheme, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), designed to benefit homeowners looking at ways of making their house more energy-efficient in order to cut down their power bills.

The Green Deal offers funds towards things such as new boilers and various forms of insulation, whereas the ECO scheme, typically aimed at those at most risk of fuel poverty, usually involves funding towards items such as loft and wall insulation.

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