I think we should keep these benefits universal

Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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We all hope to enjoy a happy and active retirement, free of money worries.

If you have worked and saved to make that a reality, then the state should reward and support you.

The Conservatives promised to keep universal pensioner benefits in this Parliament and we have done just that.

Now David Cameron has gone further: for as long as he is Prime Minister, universal pensioner benefits are here to stay.

Comfort, independence, companionship and health should be the expectation of all Britons in retirement.

Free TV licences for the over-75s, free travel, winter fuel payments, free eye tests, free prescriptions and a state pension that will always increase by the higher rate of wages, prices or 2.5%, ensure peace of mind and quality of life.

Means-testing them is completely unacceptable

Both Labour and the Lib Dems have announced they would not protect those benefits. They argue that they would cut them because it is unfair on others.

I do not agree. Firstly, it is a myth that pensioners are an extremely well-off group compared to others.

The older you, are the higher your cost of living: that should be taken into account.

Secondly, means-testing tends to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society go without, as we saw from the disastrous administration of pension credits under the last government.

Millions of pounds’ worth of pension credits were under-claimed in our city due to the bureaucracy involved in the application for them and the humiliation felt by many in having to ask for the financial help.

All political parties should learn the lessons of that.

And thirdly, means-testing is incredibly expensive and used for these benefits the administration involved would use up a considerable chuck of any savings made.

For these reasons we should keep these benefits universal.

If pensioners wish to give up their entitlements, or donate their winter fuel payments to others more in need, then they could do so through a voluntary scheme – and I am sure some would wish to.

These entitlements are there for a reason: to prevent isolation and insecurity and keep people healthy..

Means-testing them would surely lead to those most in need missing out and that, in my book, is completely unacceptable.