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Tories propose to scrap winter fuel payments for all but poorest pensioners to fund social care

PUBLISHED: 22:30 17 May 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Archant © 2017

The Conservative party is set to propose scrapping winter fuel payments for all but the poorest pensioners.

The money saved by cutting the benefit will fund a social care overhaul.

If the Tories are returned to government, they will means test the controversial payment which has up until now gone to all pensioners regardless of wealth.

Details of the plans will be included in the Conservative manifesto. Other key proposals on social care will include:

• Putting the home into the means-test for care meaning people’s assets are treated equally across residential and domiciliary care

• A capital floor of £100,000, below which assets will be protected from social care costs. This is four times the current level of £23,250

• Promising no-one has to sell their home within their lifetime, or the lifetime of their surviving partner to pay for care costs

In the foreword to the manifesto Theresa May also addresses Brexit claiming the coming years must “bring us together as a united country”.

She says: “Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity.

“People are rightly sceptical of politicians who claim to have easy answers to deeply complex problems. It is the responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead and the hard work required to overcome them.

“Above all, it will require a unity of purpose stretching across this precious union of nations, from north to south and east to west. For as we embark on the momentous journey ahead of us over the next few years, our shared values, interests and ambitions can – and must – bring us together as a united country.”

The policy will be seen as another lurch towards centrist Labour voters unhappy about the direction of their party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Details of how the means testing will work and any financial cut-off point is not yet clear.

The benefit was introduced in 1997 to tackle fuel poverty among the elderly. Currently the payment varies from £100 to £300 and more than 12 million people are eligible.

Suffolk Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign, backed by the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, encourages people to donate their Winter Fuel payment to help others who may struggle to afford to heat their homes in the winter.

The Surviving Winter campaign is also run with support from the East of England Co-operative Society and Ipswich Building Society, and the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Warm Homes Healthy People project.

According to the Office for National Statistics, almost 30,000 households in Suffolk live in fuel poverty, with many suffering in silence during the coldest months.

The Surviving Winter campaign, now in its fifth year, has raised more than £310,000 and supported more than 850 households during the harshest winter months.

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When we dwell on the current impact of global warming, we tend to think of polar ice caps melting or Californian wild fires, both of which might seem a world away from sleepy Suffolk. But Jonathan Dyke, the managing director of Suffolk Yacht Harbour, says he can already see the impact of climate change on his harbour in Levington.

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