About Gill

Private Chef to Pierce Brosnan, a bulimic model and an arms dealer. It's all in the book EATING MY WORDS.

Dear MP let me introduce you to old Elsie

So Theresa May has announced that she’s going to cut the winter fuel payments for all those rich pensioners out there. That sounds like a sensible plan to me. Why should rich old gits get extra money from the tax payer?  

Why are they living so long anyway? They’re costing £108 billion a year in pensions. That’s 47% of the benefits we pay out in the UK. If the government had only kept the price of fags down then they would all be dying off earlier and we wouldn’t have to fund their pensions and care home costs.

But let me tell you about the winter fuel payment and what it means. It costs £3 billion a year and is automatically paid to every pensioner. You can’t argue about it, you don’t have to fill in forms, it just pops into your bank account like a little golden nugget of winter warmth.

And here is how it’s already paid for every single year. £3.5 billion of pension credits and housing benefit goes unclaimed by pensioners every year in the UK. 

Why are the pensioners not claiming what they’re entitled to?  Because they don’t want to be scroungers, that’s why.  So if Theresa May wanted to take away the winter fuel payment all she had to do was tell pensioners that they could still have it, they would just have to apply for it. Even if there were no restrictions the majority of pensioners wouldn’t apply. 

Maybe apart from the money grabbing, self-centred rich who have always thought of themselves first and others last. You know who I mean don’t you?

Elsie died last year. She  was an old lady that I used to take bread and fruit and vegetables to when I was doing the free food rounds.

It wasn’t easy to give her anything. She was very suspicious of getting anything free for a start, thinking there must be a catch.  When she finally relented (I’m very persistent, as you know) she said, “Alright then, I’ll have a bit of fruit. But none of that funny stuff and nothing hard because I’ve got no teeth.”

She didn’t have any carpets either. I never got beyond her front door but I could see the hallway with its bare concrete floors and the un-carpeted wooden stairs. 

Elsie was always wrapped up in her bright pink or orange home knitted cardigans and I worried that she must be really cold in a house without carpet in these awful northern winters.

Elsie’s house was ex council property, now part of the local social housing stock. I called them and told them about Elsie and was told that all properties were let without carpets or even a cooker. They couldn’t help.

Now there’s a chance that Elsie had squillions in her bank account and was saving it all up to leave to the cat’s home. 

In fact this is what my dad said about an old lady I saw struggling with too many manky  carriers on my first childhood trip to London.  “Oh look at that poor old lady!” I’d said in my innocence.
“She’s probably a millionaire” said my dad “Lots of these people are. Theyre just a bit eccentric.”

Now I can choose to think that my dad said this because he knew I was upset and wanted to protect me from the pain of knowing what life was really like or I can worry that he was like the millions of Tory voters who believe the elderly have more than enough money to live on through their pensions, that Foodbank users are all smoking and drinking, and that teachers and coppers really want a conservative government.

By the way, my dad voted Labour all his life.