A top Treasury minister has been embarrassed after a record emerged of him asking whether welfare for some pensioners should be scrapped in favor of tackling child poverty.
John Glen, who was until last Monday reset the second in charge of the Treasury, was recorded talking to members of the Cambridge University Conservatives where he made the controversial statements.
Mr Glen is heard saying: “I think we also need to come to grips with the fact that the triple lock is very expensive and how sustainable is that going forward in terms of pensions and all the other benefits?”
He cited the example of his own mother, who is “not very rich but she is perfectly comfortable”.
“She texted me today aged 75 saying ‘I’ve just heard about my £500 winter fuel payment and I’m just like ‘you don’t need that’.
“But finding a mechanism to try [the Winter Fuel Payment] It’s very difficult … these are the mechanical forms of government that you have to look at.
“Is it better if we spent more of that money on child poverty? Probably so.”
The event appeared to be held on October 25 this year.
Last night the Government hastened to deny that Mr. Glen was discussing official policy matters, with a a spokesman told the Telegraph: “That’s not what we’re going to do”.
Although Mr Glen was transferred from the Treasury to the Cabinet Office last week, it is clear from the record that his old Department is debating how affordable the triple green pension is, and whether pensioner benefits should be cut in in light of the wider cost of living crisis.
Last night Jeremy Hunt was warned that older voters will not forgive the Tories if they “fiddle” the figures on the triple green.
The warning came as it emerged that the Chancellor plans to pay a lower rate in the Autumn statement on Wednesday.
Pay growth figures mean pensioners should see their pensions rise by 8.5 per cent from April.
However Mr Hunt is considering discounting bonuses, which would mean the rise would fall to 7.8 per cent and leave pensioners £75 a year worse off than expected.
The move would save the country’s coffers around £900 million next year.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown introduced the winter fuel payment in 1997, and it gives those born before 1957 between £250 and £600.
It is a universal benefit, meaning that all pensioners receive it regardless of their personal financial situation.
Mr Glen declined to comment when approached about the leaked recording yesterday.
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