A senior Conservative MP will today call for pensioner benefits to be means-tested and for the £2bn saving to be used to fund the introduction of Andrew Dilnot’s LTC proposals.
Nick Boles, who is close to prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, is expected to say is a speech to the Resolution Foundation today that means-testing should be brought in for benefits such as free TV licences, bus passes and winter fuel allowance if the Conservatives are re-elected in 2015.
According to the Financial Times, he will say: “If we are to achieve stability in our public finances and make crucial investments in improving productivity and competitiveness, we must find a way to save at lease £8.5bn from the £145bn we currently spend on benefits other than pensions.
“If we are going to protect spending on pensions, as we should, equity between the generations requires that these cuts cannot only fall on adults of working age. We need to acknowledge now that we will not be able to continue the protection of these other benefits for better-off pensioners after 2015.”
The Dilnot commission’s report, published last July, calls for a cap on individuals’ lifetime contributions to social care costs of between £25,000 and £50,000, with £35,000 the recommended figure. It also calls for the means-tested threshold, where people must fund the full cost themselves, to rise from £23,250 to £100,000. Dilnot said his reforms would cost £1.7bn.
Last month, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said Dilnot’s proposals represent a “coherent way forward” and that they could be paid for by pruning benefits for wealthy pensioners.
The Government will publish a white paper on social care tomorrow and though it is expected to acknowledge the need for a cap, it is not expected to offer a solution to how this will be funded. Some, including the Nuffield Trust are suggesting the cost should be transferred to the NHS budget though this could prove difficult for the Government which has ringfenced NHS spending.