Express.co.uk readers have had their say on the winter fuel allowance
The majority of people who took part in our poll think the tax-payer funded payment should be means-tested, with 49 per cent supporting this.
And a further 29 per cent think it depends on the threshold.
Only 22 per cent were against the winter fuel allowance being means tested, the option that Labour is advocating.
The Express.co.uk poll on the winter fuel allowance saw responses from more than 4,800 respondents.
Introduced by Gordon Brown in 1997, the winter fuel allowance pays between £100 and £300 tax-free to pensioners to help afford their heating bills.
Eligible people must have been born before May 5 1953, but this date changes every year.
Expats who have moved to warmer climes such as Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain are not eligible.
But some people who split their time between some countries, such as Switzerland or another in the European Economic Area country, could also receive the payment if they have a “genuine link” to the UK.
More than 4,800 people took part in the Express.co.uk poll on the winter fuel allowance
The payment is made automatically each year in the winter months.
But in a bid to plug the £2.8 billion social care funding gap, Theresa May has pledged to means-test the payment as she eyes No 10 in next month’s General Election.
In their manifesto launched this week, entitled Forward, Together, it says the payment should be examined as it is paid “regardless of need, giving money to wealthier pensioners when working people on lower incomes do not get similar support.”
Instead, the payment in the future will be “focusing assistance on the least well-off pensioners, who are most at risk of fuel poverty”.
The Conservatives are yet to reveal what the threshold will be, but millions of pensioners could lose up to £300 a year.
The ‘heat or eat’ issue which faces some people was partly why the payment was introduced, with the Tory plans aimed at ensuring only those who truly need it receive it.
But Labour has lashed out at the Conservatives’ proposals, with shadow chancellor of the exchequer, John McDonnell, “demanding” they withdraw it during a press conference on Friday.
The opposition party’s stance is that they will continue to dole out the payments universally.
Mr McDonnell explained: “The whole point of introducing a non-means tested benefit is because means-tested benefits actually do have a deterrent effect on claim.
“And we’ve seen that on pensioner credits, a third who are entitled to pensioner credits not claiming.
“Largely because means testing is often so complex. The pensioner credit form is 19 pages long.”
His comments came after he was grilled over why billionaires and rock stars such as Sir Alan Sugar – estimated to be worth £1.4billion – and Sir Mick Jagger – estimated to be worth £235 million – receive the payment.
Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto outlines the controversial policy
The winter fuel allowance was introduced by Gordon Brown in 1997
And other questions have been raised over the fund after it emerged Scottish pensioners would be exempt from a potential means-test, as it is colder north of the border.
In a speech in Scotland alongside Scottish Labour leader Ruth Davidson, Mrs May said: “Social security devolution allows us to make different choices in Scotland and so we will protect universal Winter Fuel Payments for all older people and they will not be subject to means-testing.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the proposal to means-test the payment as “nasty”, warning up to 10 million pensioners could lose out as a result.
Some 4,800 people voted in the online poll which asked “should the winter fuel allowance be means-tested”?