A new report by the Lib Dem MP and former minister Paul Burstow has said means-testing winter fuel payments could fund reforms to elderly care.
The proposals suggest limiting winter fuel payments to those currently receiving pension credit, which the report claims would save £1.5bn a year.
Pension credit, unlike winter fuel, is means-tested, and only households with income of less than £217.90 a week (£142.70 for singles) receive it. Under the proposals an estimated three-quarters of those currently receiving the benefit would miss out.
Speaking to the BBC Mr Burstow said: “Social care isn’t free, but it could be a lot fairer for those who have worked hard all their lives. By concentrating the winter fuel payment on those eligible for pension credit, we can pay for a cap on care costs.”
More detail needed
Winter fuel payments are currently paid to anyone born on or before 5 July 1951, with the consequence that roughly 100,000 pensioners with incomes over £100,000 receive the benefit.
The report follows comments by the Conservative minister Nick Hurd last week that wealthy pensioners should consider giving the benefit to charity. They also echo similar comment made by MP Nick Bowles in July which sparked outrage.
But Michael Mitchell of Age UK said that more detail was needed: “We appreciate that the country is facing difficult financial times, but we must be careful that the wider implications for older people of any potential source of funding are fully considered.
“Until the government sets out concrete proposals it is difficult to assess what the overall impact would be on older people. ”
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