1. Main
  2. Learn
  3. Politics
  4. Politics

British minister urges rich to give back state handouts

©REUTERS/Daniel Munoz ©REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
The British government minister pushing through strongly criticised reforms of the welfare state urged rich pensioners on Sunday to give back any handouts they don't need, AFP reports. Older people are entitled to help with their heating bills, free bus travel and free television licences, but there are growing calls for these to face the same cuts as unemployment payments and other benefits for working-age people. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Sunday Telegraph there were "no plans to change" the current system, which Prime Minister David Cameron promised to protect at the last election. But he told the newspaper: "It is up to them, if they don't want it, to hand it back. I would encourage everybody who reads the Telegraph and doesn't need it, to hand it back." His comments were given short shrift by cabinet colleagues. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in Cameron's Conservative-led government, said he would support a change in the system, adding of Duncan Smith's suggestion: "I don't think that makes sense." Conservative minister Ken Clarke, who at 72 years old would be entitled to pensioners' benefits, said he didn't think it was possible to hand money back to the government in that way. "You can't hand it back to the government. I don't think it is a system for doing that," he told Sky News television. "Every pensioner and retired person like myself has to make up their own mind about whether they really need it and whether they are going to give it to some worthwhile cause." The welfare reforms introduced by Duncan Smith, a former leader of Cameron's Conservative party, have been strongly criticised for hitting families already struggling amid the economic gloom. He argues that the changes, introduced amid a major programme of spending cuts designed to reduce the deficit, are intended to ensure people are better off in work than living on state handouts.

Nobel prizewinner proposes a new city in KZ
New abnormal snowfalls expected in Kazakhstan
Huge glacier retreat triggered in 1940s
Hyperloop construction begins in Las Vegas
"Moonlight" to top Spirit Awards nominations
Oil prices fall due to investors uncertainty
New dwarf galaxy discovered around Milky Way
Kanat Islam becomes a top ten WBO boxer
World oil prices continue to rise
Kazakhstan expects warming - Kazhydromet
Merkel to seek fourth term as chancellor
Sale of Tintin drawings set to break records
US, EU stocks fall as markets focus on dollar
Pacific leaders urged to defend free trade
EU warns eight nations on budget deficit
Universiade-2017: Athletic Village is ready
Bob Dylan can't make Nobel ceremony
Messi will never leave Barca - club president
Google, Facebook take aim at 'fake' news
Aerosmith announces Europe 'farewell' tour
Putin, Trump to normalise US-Russia ties
At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey blast
6.2 quake hits western Japan
OPEC agrees shock oil output cut
Israeli ex-president and Nobel laureate Peres dies
Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
32,000 arrested in Turkey coup probe
Youth to the fore as Milan fashion week opens
Xenophobia threatening peace in eastern Germany
Four-in-10 Japanese are virgins: poll
Sweden re-militarises Baltic island of Gotland
China to launch second space laboratory: Xinhua
More than a billion stars mapped in Milky Way: ESA
Boxing: Golovkin eyes Saunders after stopping Brook
Kazakhstan shifts PM to security chief
Oil prices gain despite rising OPEC supply forecast
US to give Philippines military planes
Singapore wages war on Zika-bearing mosquitoes
Italy quake death toll nears 250
Viral photos add fuel to French burkini debate
18 dead as Italy struck by powerful quake
Japan's first lady visits Pearl Harbor
Pokemon's a no-go on Bangkok's roads
July was Earth's hottest month in modern times
Pakistan rock climbers scale new heights