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Labour sets out plans to means test winter fuel allowance

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Shadow chancellor Ed Balls says a Labour Government would means test the winter fuel allowance to stop wealthy pensioners receiving the benefit.

In a speech to Thomson Reuters, Balls outlined plans to save £100m a year by halting fuel payments to those in the 40p and 45p income tax bands.

The winter fuel allowance is a tax-free payment of between £100 and £300, depending on age, paid to all pensioners.

Balls said: “In tough economic times we have to make difficult choices about priorities for public spending and what the right balance is between universal and targeted support.

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Balls: Targeting wealthy pensioners

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

The Liberal Democrats support stopping winter fuel allowance for higher earners. Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said it should be voluntarily handed back.

Prime minister David Cameron has ruled out any changes to higher earner pensioner benefits during this parliament following a pledge during the 2010 election campaign.

Balls also hit out at the Government for “fudge and delay” tactics over banking reform and called for banks to be broken up unless there is real cultural change in the sector.

Worldwide Financial Planning IFA Nick McBreen says: “This is a headline-grabbing initiative that smacks of desperation.”

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