On the subject of welfare, while the Lords debates whether a disabled person who can walk further than the length of a cricket pitch is allowed help with their transport costs, a minister has rather neatly highlighted the mess another part of the welfare state has ended up in. Nick Hurd told the Telegraph that he would ‘congratulate’ pensioners who donated their winter fuel payment to charity. He said:
‘The government is going to stick to its commitments. But if people take their own decisions that they want to use [the money] for good, of course, as minister for charity, I would support, congratulate and encourage them.’
When I last wrote about this, former Number 10 adviser Sean Worth reminded me that the reason the Tories had made their commitment to keeping the Winter Fuel Payment because Labour had backed them into a corner by running a scaremongering campaign suggesting the party wanted to scrap pensioner benefits. Labour continues to insist mulishly that winter fuel payment is an efficient benefit and that it would remain safe if they were in power. More fool them, but it’s a funny old world when a Conservative-led government finds itself encouraging people to use their benefit payments for a purpose that they aren’t intended for, isn’t it?