Winter fuel allowance cuts could help pay for care home fees

Published: 23/01/2013

Former care services minister, Paul Burstow MP, is proposing means testing winter fuel allowances in an attempt to boost long term care funding.

Mr Burstow and the Centre Forum think-tank believe winter fuel allowance should be limited to those receiving pension credit, a provision which is based on both savings and income and is received by only the poorest retirees.

While such a move could see the majority of pensioners experience some degree of cut, Mr Burstow questioned whether it was “right” to continue to pay the winter fuel allowance to the 100,000 retirees with incomes of £100,000+ after many of them admitted using the money for other things, especially in light of the current care homes crisis.

Currently if a person has over £23,250 in assets, including property, they are required to pay for their own residential care. However with care home costs average £700 a week this is leading to many residents collating enormous care bills which, in turn, force not only themselves but also their families to sell assets and their homes in order to cover the cost.

The independent Dilnot Commission, set up by the Government to address care home funding, proposed a £35,000 cap on residential care. However to implement the reform the government would require £1.7bn. The suggested winter fuel allowance cut would save £1.5bn a year.

Prime Minister David Cameron has however insisted he is committed to retaining these allowances.

Content correct at time of publication

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