When ‘charity’ becomes an insult.

18 Nov

The winter fuel allowance, does anybody know what it is? Chances are, unless you were born in 1951 or before, you won’t have a clue.

The winter fuel allowance therefore, is a tax-free payment which is made to older people (i.e. those born in 1951 or prior to and/or those aged 80 years old and above) to assist then in keeping warm during the winter months. The payment is around £200 overall in average circumstances although those over 80 years old will receive slightly more. The payment is not means tested and is made out of fear that thousands of elderly people will die as a result of the extremely cold weather.

The payment is widespread and is distributed out to everyone as this is felt the best way to reach those who require it.  This controversially, is inclusive of those who are from wealthy backgrounds, celebrities and encompasses those whose own income exceeds £100,000.

I write this blog at a time when bankers, lawyers, business figures and celebrities over the age of 60 years old are being urged to give up their allowance in order to help out the more needy pensioners and to assist them in heating their homes this winter. Whilst tens of celebrities and public figures have spoken up about the cause and even signed a petition to pledge their own allowances, (inclusive of Dame Helen Mirren and Sir David Jason) I ask why they aren’t doing more.

These public figures earn anything into the millions and whilst it is their own money to do with it what they wish I must admit I find it highly insulting that they feel that they are doing a selfless and charitable thing by proposing to give up £200 which was given to them for nothing but being the age that they are. Surely if they really wanted to ‘do the right thing’ they would be digging deep into their pockets and proposing to not only give up their own allowances but perhaps a small percentage of their pay, in light of it being Christmas and all?

Also, in light of the recession and in consideration of the universality of the winter fuel allowance system why isn’t more being done to make sure that the allowance is reaching those who need it most and those who need it most only? Surely it is the governments job to regulate this and not for the public?

In addition to this, how are these aforementioned donations going to be moderated?

It appears to me that these celebrities and public figures who have openly pledged to donate the government’s money (funnily enough) to this cause aren’t just doing so for self-less reasons. You only had to open a particular newspaper yesterday to see that a double page spread of self-promotion was being shoved into ones face with only half of the page dedicated to the actual story. There is obviously another motivation behind such donations.

This story, highlights three key things then: 1) That the government has put into position this ‘universal’ funding so that it doesn’t have to do its own job of regulating  the allowance fully; 2) That with this allowance reaching those who don’t need it, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money is being wasted and; 3)That no good gesture is done without an ulterior motive, in this case more money.

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