In the run-up to the election, the argument for means-testing pensioner benefits has resurfaced. Many people don’t see the point of these benefits – but that’s because they don’t see what would have to happen if they were means-tested instead. Both Labour and Liberal Democrats have said they would means-test several benefits, so that rich people don’t get them.
One of the frustrations of writing a blog about policy is that the same arguments come round again and again, and it gets rather difficult to find anything new to say about them. I’ve made the case repeatedly. The argument from principle is in the Reid Foundation report I co-authored, The case for universalism. The practical argument is here, in a blog from two years ago. Means testing every benefit one by one is more costly, more intrusive and more error prone than paying for it through the tax system. My interview on the BBC is here.