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LibDems accuse Tories of means-test U-turn

Opposition parties have clashed over means-testing, with the Liberal Democrats claiming Conservative pension plans to reverse its spread will make the problem worse.

LibDem Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Steve Webb says a policy U-turn by the Conservatives will mean that a quarter of a million more people will be pushed into means-testing in contrast to the Tory pledge to reverse the spread of means-testing.

In October 2003, the Conservatives pledged to relink the basic state pension with earnings while the means-tested top-up would be increased with prices. This would take one million pensioners away from means-testing. But in a recent reply to a question in Parliament from Webb, Conservative Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary David Willetts said he accepted that the pension credit should rise with earnings according to the current Government timescale.

Webb says this means the Tories can no longer claim that they will reverse meanstesting. Instead, they can now only claim to slow the growth compared with Government projections that half a million more pensioners will be eligible for credit by the end of the next Parliament.

Webb says: “Since this U-turn, they need to come clean and admit that means testing would grow under a Conservative Government.”

A Conservative spokesman says: “It is like turning an oil tanker. The crucial thing is to get the process under way so the younger generation receive a clear message that it pays to save.”


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