Cutting benifits for rich pensioners is fair
The welfare secretary has been privately arguing in cabinet that the universal winter heating allowance (an annual £200 currently sent to all households containing someone over 60, rich or poor, rising to £300 for the over-80s) is now an unaffordable luxury.
This week his case for restricting it to the poorest half of the retired population spilled into the open: yet far from being accused of heartless granny-bashing, Duncan Smith was cheered on by the Sun, which launched its own campaign in support of him. When the Fleet Street champion of both grannies and wealth-creators adopts the slogan "ditch handouts to the rich", something odd is afoot.
It helps that Duncan Smith is arguably quite right. As the broadcaster and older people's tsar Joan Bakewell points out, it seems absurd that she and her millionaire rock star neighbour get taxpayer subsidy for heating their prime Primrose Hill real estate. The fact that so many pensioners, unlike Bakewell, need every penny of help they can get only makes it seem stranger that 100,000 households on incomes of over £100,000 a year should still be merrily banking their "winter warmer" even as the welfare state is cut to the bone. It is hardly rapaciously rightwing to suggest this money could be better spent on those in real fuel poverty.