Concern as Press Fund axes Xmas cash

The Newspaper Press Fund has decided to drop Christmas payments of around £150 made to a number of needy journalists.

In a letter sent out to members, the NPF said the council of trustees had met recently and decided it was no longer appropriate to make the winter grants.

It said: “They consider the combination of the winter fuel payments to pensioners and the guaranteed income levels of the new Pension Tax Credits largely meets the original purpose of the grants.”

A former Fleet Street foreign correspondent aged 69, who contacted Press Gazette, said she was concerned about the move.

She said: “Normally at Christmas the NPF makes a payment to people in difficult circumstances. I thought the letter was the sort of letter you get from a Government fund.

“In my case the payment was £150, which is quite a lot when you are living on a basic state pension of just over £100 a week. It was enough to give my eight grandchildren presents.

“A lot of journalists, like myself, didn’t think we’d ever get to pensionable age. Every profession has got its own kind of people and journalists on the whole have been a little bit bohemian.”

She added: “To stop this payment just seems a bit Scrooge-like.”

NPF director David Ilott said: “We are a charity and we provide for people who have a need. If this person has a need and they come to us the trustees will see if they can help.

“There was a feeling among the trustees that the main reason for making this payment was fuel which should be covered by Government payments now. However, if anyone is in need please get in touch with us.”

Founded in 1864, the NPF has 5,500 members and runs a care home in Dorking. It provides grants to impoverished journalists totalling £4,000 a week. Membership costs a one-off payment of £50.

By Dominic Ponsford

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