Will the Coalition make the first move over funding social care?

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Paul Burstow pictured outside the Department of Health in 2010. Photo: PA

A former Lib Dem minister has come up with a solution to fund social care for the elderly in England.

Paul Burstow, who had the care brief until last year's reshuffle, is suggesting means-testing winter fuel payments. Not just for the very wealthy, but for 75% of pensioners - in fact anyone who doesn't depend on pension credits.

That's already raised a few eyebrows with even charities like Age UK concerned many people who need that money could lose it.

Downing Street has already slapped down the idea. A spokesman for David Cameron pointed out to me that protecting winter fuel payments is written in the coalition agreement so cannot be reneged on.

But what of the Lib Dems? A few weeks ago Nick Clegg said that he would look again at universal benefits paid to the wealthiest pensioners.

Today a senior Lib Dem close to Mr Clegg told me Mr Burstow's idea has "no endorsement from anyone in the party."

But that MP did admit that it does no harm coming up with ideas on how to fund social care.

I'm told the issue of elderly care and how to cap costs, as recommended in the Dilnot Commission, are being discussed in talks ahead of the Government's midterm review.

What many Lib Dems hope is that ministers will agree to bring in legislation without worrying too much about how it will be funded.

But funding has always been the problem. So far no Chancellor has wanted to put his hand in his pocket to pay for it. All political parties though, agree sorting out social care cannot be put off forever. The question is, will the Coalition make the first move?