Party backs seniors in benefits row

The Danish People's Party is urging fellow lawmakers to amend existing laws to allow pensioners to spend weekends together without losing public pension and housing subsidies

The Danish People's Party responded to news of a Herning Council decision that was recently overturned by the county social affairs committee - an appeal backed by Social Affairs Minister Eva Kjer Hansen.

"The law must be changed so that there is no doubt that pensioners can spend the night in each other's company on weekends without losing their retirement benefits. We should leave our seniors in peace - only if they move in together permanently should the decision affect their benefits," said Danish People's Party social policy spokeswoman Pia Kristensen.

The case in Herning involved an 84-year-old woman who spent time recuperating after a hospital stay at the home of her 82-year-old male friend, although both continued to officially maintain separate apartments. Ringkøbing County Social Affairs Committee ruled that despite the extended nature of the woman's stay, the two were not legally cohabitating and Herning Council was not authorised to demand that the frail woman pay back DKK 100,000 in benefits she received as a single retiree.

Social Affairs Minister Eva Kjer Hansen said on Monday that an actual amendment to the law would be too complicated, and passed the buck to the councils, urging local officials to interpret pension and housing benefit rules more liberally.

"We need to investigate whether cases like this actually do cost the councils more money. If that's the case, then the problem needs to be addressed. But it's unreasonable not to let pensioners help each other out and save added care costs without being penalised," said Kristensen.

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