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3rd January 2013

Means test winter fuel payments to fund elderly care call

Former UK care services minister Paul Burstow has said that means testing the universal winter fuel benefit for pensioners could help fund care for older people in England.

The proposal came in a report 'Delivering Dilnot - paying for elderly care' edited by the Lib Dem MP and issued by the Centre Forum partnership on January 3.

Mr Burstow told the BBC that targeting the allowance would help pay for a fairer social care system as recommended in the Dilnot report of last summer.

  • In 2012 the Dilnot Commission recommended that the cap on the amount individuals have to pay towards their social care be set at £35,000 over a lifetime.
  • The commission, set up by the government, argued that such a move would protect people from catastrophic care costs that result in them having to sell their homes.

Under the proposals from Mr Burstow and the Centre Forum, the cap on the amount people should pay towards social care costs in England would be set at £60,000 but the amount of assets people could hold would rise to £100,000.

  • They said winter fuel allowance should be limited to those receiving pension credit to help pay for this change.
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 [the poorest pensioners], we can pay for a cap on care costs."

He said there were 100,000 pensioners with incomes of more than £100,000 a year and questioned whether it was "right" to continue to pay them winter fuel allowance as many of them admitted to using the money for other things.

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