MP Paul Burstow calls for cap on pensioners' winter fuel payments
An MP has sparked a row by calling on the Government to cap winter fuel payments (WFP) to millions of pensioners.
Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow says payments to pensioners to heat their homes should be capped so the money saved can go towards elderly care costs.
Opponents of the plan say, although reform is needed to stop pensioners having to sell assets to fund their care, this scheme will penalise those who have saved for their retirements as they will have to pay more towards heating costs.
Mr Burstow worked on a report published today by the think-tank CentreForum. The report calls for an end to universal entitlement to WFP and instead giving the payment only to those who receive pension credit.
This, the report says, would save £1.5bn each year which could be spent on putting a £50,000 cap on the cost of care for pensioners with a means test so those who could afford more would pay more.
The report claims elderly people who own averagely priced homes face losing up to 65 per cent of their assets to finance their care as they get older.
Mr Burstow said: "Social care isn't 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 WFP on those eligible for pension credit we can pay for a cap on care costs."
Dr Ros Altmann, director-general of Saga which provides insurance, holidays, advice and more for elderly people, opposes Mr Burstow's plan.
She said: "It is true that reforming social care is urgent, but taking away WFP from millions of pensioners who are already struggling with their heating bills is not the solution.
"The reason we have all WFP is because our basic state pension is so low - one of the lowest in the developed world. Of course, in theory, it makes little sense to pay money to wealthy pensioners who do not really need it, but then will the next step be to say that these pensioners don't need the rest of their state pension either?"