ScotWids chief hits out at political failure over long-term care

Toby Strauss, Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows chief executive Toby Strauss has warned politicians are failing to engage with the need to link the cost of long-term care with the new pensions flexibilities.

Speaking at the launch of Scottish Widows’ retirement report in London this week, Strauss said he had sought to convince MPs of the need to assess the impact of pension freedoms on long-term care costs, but there was an unwillingness to address this.

He said: “Post-Dilnot we were very active participants in some work with the Government in how we look at how these things interact and I was very disappointed that didn’t get some traction.

“I remember suggesting that Steve Webb should have been pensions and long-term care minister, but he didn’t find that very appealing.

“There is no political will at all at the moment to deal with it. Politicians see that there’s no mileage in it at the moment, but when the Daily Mail start writing about it, then they will surely focus on it.  It is very disappointing that we’re not able to get on the front foot.”

Strauss’ comments come as a report from the think-tank International Longevity Centre warns of the risk of pensions savers deliberately spending savings in order to qualify for means-tested benefits on long-term care.

In a Department of Work and Pensions note issued in March, the government warned it will look dimly on savers deemed to have deliberately deprived themselves of money to qualify.

The DWP said:“If it is decided that you have deliberately deprived yourself, you will be treated as still having that money and it will be taken into account as income or capital when your benefit entitlement is worked out.”

Bu the ILC says there remains little clarity over how deliberate deprivation will be defined, and if those definitions will remain in the long term.

The report adds: “Without some degree of certainty on this point, it risks people sleepwalking into decisions that will seriously affects their benefits at some future point in time.”