Iain Duncan Smith encouraged better-off elderly people to pay back taxpayer-funded financial support that they do not need, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes and television licences.
He urged those who can afford it to pay back the benefit, saying it was an "anomaly" that all pensioners receive universal benefits, no matter how wealthy they are.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph Duncan Smith said there is "no indication of change" to the current system, despite calls for an amendment to the payment system.
He told the newspaper: "It is up to them if they don't want it to hand it back. I would encourage everybody who reads the Telegraph and doesn't need it to hand it back."Today:
Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, insisted he was neither encouraging nor discouraging wealthy pensioners to hand back their universal benefits such as the free bus pass, free TV licence or the winter fuel allowance.
He had been reported in the Sunday Telegraph as supporting the charitable voluntary move as a way of reducing the deficit, but on Monday he said: "I am not encouraging people to hand it back or keep it."
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is a bit of a silly story, which people have tried to elaborate, when I didn't say very much at all.
"All I said in answer to a question, [is that] there's always been the position that if somebody wants to hand the money back if they don't use it that's up to them."But I'm not making that a policy position; it's just there, it's always been available for them to do – that's it."Oh what a tangled web we weave ...