Means test winter payments to fund LTC cap: Burstow
The government should reserve winter fuel payments for the poorest pensioners only and use the savings to fund a cap on long-term care costs for the elderly, Paul Burstow has said.
Speaking ahead of a planned coalition mid-term review which is expected to bring the subject of long-term care back into the spotlight, Mr Burstow, a Liberal Democrat MP and former care minister called on the government to defuse the long-term care “time bomb” and implement proposals for reform laid out by the Dilnot Commission last year.
Mr Burstow, who edited Delivering Dilnot, a 55-page report by thinktank CentreForum into care funding reform, said the government should introduce means testing for the winter fuel payment, and use the projected £1.5bn a year savings to fund a cap on care costs before the end of this parliament.
However, when asked this week if he would consider the proposals, prime minister David Cameron rejected them, insisting he would stand by an election pledge to continue to support pensioners with the benefit.
The report reveals that under the current care system elderly people who own averagely priced homes (£213,000) face losing 65 per cent of their assets to pay for care. If the government introduced a £50,000 limit on the cost of care, with a £100,000 extended means test, then older people would lose just 22 per cent of their assets.
Mr Burstow said: “Social care is not free but it could be a lot fairer for those who have worked hard all their lives.
“Placing a cap on the amount people have to pay for care would protect people from the catastrophic costs they face now. But to make this vital and long overdue change, we have to find the money from somewhere.
“By concentrating the winter fuel payment on those eligible for pension credit we can pay for a cap on care costs.”
Chris Horlick, managing director of care for health insurer Partnership, said: “Self-funders constitute 41 per cent of all elderly people in social care, yet they are among the most overlooked and poorly served in the social care system, which ironically they cross subsidise.
“They suffer not only from a chronic lack of awareness of how to fund their long term care but also where to get appropriately qualified financial advice.
“We believe this report will provide a valuable contribution to the care funding debate and ensure this critical issue is not lost in the long grass.”