Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat MP and former care services minister, has recently issued a report on the funding of elderly care costs. In the report he has suggested that the winter fuel allowance, which is currently universally available, should be means-tested in order to contribute to the cost of reforming elderly care in England.
He suggested that the winter fuel benefit only be available to those receiving pension credits. This could see approximately 75% of people losing their entitlement to this allowance which is worth between £200-£300 per household; however, it could save the government up to £1.5 billion annually. This could contribute towards the £1.7billion estimated cost of placing a cap on individuals’ lifetime care costs, as suggested by the Dilnot Commission in July 2011.
Commenting on these suggestions 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.”
David Cameron has refuted these suggestions and stated that the benefit would not be touched and that he had made a “very clear promise” that he would keep all universal benefits for pensioners.