Clegg means-test plan sparks anger among OAPs

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REPRESENTATIVES of Sheffield senior citizens are opposing proposals by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to means-test winter fuel payments and bus passes.

The Sheffield 50+ group said it is ‘totally opposed to the suggestions’.

Mr Clegg claims the change would be fairer than providing the benefits to those who are on high incomes.

But Sheffield 50+ said means-testing is complex and may deter less wealthy pensioners, too.

Julie Berrisford, of Sheffield 50+, said: “This plays into the hands of those who think that everyone who gets state benefits is a scrounger and older people are a burden on society.

“Means-testing is a costly bureaucratic process. Older people are very proud and we know many older people who would be entitled to means-tested benefits do not claim them because they find the process demeaning, confusing, and time-consuming if they need to appeal against a wrong decision.

“The net result would be that many older people would be at risk if they do not get their Winter Fuel Payments. Every winter many pensioners die of cold in this country – if Nick Clegg’s proposal was adopted many older people could die.”

She added: “These extra benefits have been introduced because the Government will not bring the basic state pension, one of the lowest in the developed world, into line with the other countries.

“Nick Clegg has gone for a populist, headline-grabbing idea.”

Mr Clegg has proposed to ‘support fairness by making clear that money should not be paid to those who do not need it - looking again at universal benefits paid to the wealthiest pensioners’.

Lib Dems said they have tried to make life fairer for elderly people by approving a large rise in the state pension and restoring a link between pension increases and those of average earnings.