Clegg’s ‘fairness’; Robbing Peter to pay Paul….
Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg says, will raise the age of qualification for the winter fuel allowance to 65. Clegg justifies these, frankly, outrageous proposals thus:
“We say you should bring that rise in the eligibility age forward to now, that saves you about £400m and you could use some of that money to actually provide extra winter fuel payments to the very disabled or those who are terminally ill.”
Operative word there is ‘could’ which is not the same as will. Given that the Liberal Democrats are committed to funding deficit reduction 100% through spending cuts I think it is fair to say the use of the word *could* leaves Mr Clegg just enough room for breathing space. In reality, Clegg himself costs ‘introducing extra fairness into the system’ ie, bringing in those groups he talks about at £200m; half the money this proposal saves.
Calling for the extension of Winter Fuel Payments is a worthy cause however, Clegg wants to do this by playing various groups off one another; robbing Peter to pay Paul. Amazingly, Clegg has positioned himself and his party to the right of the Conservative Party on the question of fiscal policy with his policy of funding defecit reduction through 100% spending cuts.
Labour gets things wrong but today it can be proud of itself on this issue and Alistair Darling who has continued to support the payment in the Budget today.