Cold comfort

This is the level to which we have descended:

Winter fuel payments should be means-tested to help pay for care of the elderly, a former minister has said.

report by Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow said targeting the allowance would help pay for a fairer social care system.

The report said it could fund most of the £1.7bn cost of implementing reforms of elderly care in England.

While David Cameron said universal benefits for pensioners would be protected the BBC understands ministers are poised to back a cap on care costs.

There are four gross errors there:

  • that means-testing is ever equitable. The only fair means of adding or deducting income is through the general tax system.
  • that mean-testing one small benefit (and the winter fuel allowance is as nugatory an acknowledgement as any) stops there. What would be the next ‘cut’? Anyone doubting there is a hidden agenda might refer to today’s Daily Telegraph, where smiling Gregg Shapps reckons restricting benefit rises was ‘about fairness’ and , Political Editor is oh-so-concerned about more than £208 billion in benefit payments during the 2012-13 financial year. Even ConHome wondersEr, hang on a minute…how much of that is the state pension?
  • that money retained by the Treasury (which is what a “cut” such as this amounts to) is ever automatically available for alternative use. Indeed, such an arrangement is the dreaded ‘hypothecation’.
  • that ‘most of’ the cost of care for the elderly can be provided on a measly £1.7 billion ticket. That is derived from the Dilnot package, which was costed at £2 billion plus — and even that assumed a minimum £35,000 ‘take’ from each recipient of the care package.

Over the years the pensioners of Britain have been the Exchequer’s cash-cow. Private pensions have been serially robbed. State pensions have been down-indexed.

Paul Burstow has, of course, been a career politician almost all of his adult life. It shows.

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1 Comment

Filed under BBC, Britain, ConHome, Conservative family values, Daily Telegraph, Lib Dems

One response to “Cold comfort

  1. Pingback: The twists and turns of ConDem tongues | Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service

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