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Labour to scrap winter fuel allowance for 'richest 5%'

Labour will abolish winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners, scrap the shares-for-rights scheme and reverse tax cuts for hedge funds, the shadow chancellor is expected to announce later today.

In his party conference speech, Ed Balls will also insist any proceeds from the sale of nationalised banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland are pumped into paying off the national debt.

So conference, at a time when the public services that pensioners rely on are under such pressure, we cannot continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest 5% of pensioners.

And a fairer approach to deficit reduction means we will crack down on tax avoidance, scrap the shares-for-rights scheme and reverse the tax cut for hedge funds.

And we will insist that all the proceeds from the sale of our stakes in Lloyds and RBS are used not for a one-off pre-election tax give-away - but instead every penny of profit used to repay the national debt.

– Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls


Pensioners are now 'richer than 40% of population'

Government expenditure directed at pensioners has 'soared by 60%' meaning the average pensioner is now 'richer than 40%' of the population', according to figures cited by the Institute of Directors.

The claims came in response to shadow chancellor's proposal to reduce winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners.

Over the past fifteen years government expenditure directed at pensioners soared by 60% in real terms (i.e. after inflation). The median pensioner is now richer than 40% of the population. It would be wrong to exempt better-off pensioners from the sacrifices demanded of working families.

Meaningful reform would also means test other universal pensioner benefits like TV licences and free travel. Ed Ball’s plan would target £100 million in savings, which will have a negligible impact on the welfare budget.

– Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors

Mr Walker said that if Labour is serious about achieving 'iron discipline’ over the public finances, it cannot limit itself to a 'token tweak' to the winter fuel allowance, which represents a 'drop in the entitlement ocean'.

Winter fuel allowance 'bar set too low'

Joan Bakewell, the last Labour government's spokesperson for the elderly told ITV News, "I think it's very important to start debate on this."

"However, Paul Burstow has set the bar very low, and I think to suggest that everybody except those who are on pension credits is spreading the net far too wide. A lot of older people need that money."

Minister: We are not going to means-test fuel benefits

David Willetts said the Prime Minister stands by his pledges Credit: ITV News

The Universities Minister David Willetts has said in response to a call for winter fuel benefit to be means-tested:

"David Cameron and the Conservative Party made it very clear promise during the election campaign that we were not going to means-test the winter fuel payment and David Cameron stands by his pledges".


Alzheimer's Society: Talks on how benefits cake cut 'vital'

In response to former care services minister Paul Burstow's call for winter fuel payments for pensioners to be means-tested to help increase the elderly care pot, the Alzheimer's Society has said:

We can’t ignore that millions of people, including many people with dementia, are being denied access to essential care because of the colossal hole in the adult social care funding pot.

Discussing how we cut the cake in terms of where money is spent, including benefits for older people, is therefore vital.

However, these discussions should not be held in isolation. The only way to achieve a long term sustainable solution is for all the political parties to agree on a complete and achievable package of funding. People’s lives depend on it.'

DoH: Capping costs 'best way to fund care'

We still have a long way to go if this country is going to be one of the best places in Europe to grow old.

There is no doubt capping costs - the principle recommended by Dilnot - is the best model - the key question is how to fund it sensibly given the current deficit.

We are looking at how to achieve this, along with taking action to ensure people do not have to sell their homes to pay for care.

– Department of Health

Pensions expert on winter fuel payment conundrum

In response to calls for winter fuel benefit to be means-tested, Ros Altmann, the Director-General of the Saga Group who formerly advised the Government on pensions, has tweeted:

Labour MP: Real money needed to avoid elderly care 'crash'

In response to Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow's call for winter fuel payment curbs to help fund elderly care costs, Labour MP Paul Flynn tweeted:

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