Benefits could be axed to fund care for the elderly

Central plank of Queen's Speech in danger of collapsing after attack from all sides

Plans to reform social care for the elderly came under fierce attack yesterday when it emerged that key benefits received by millions of pensioners could be axed to pay for the overhaul. Downing Street confirmed it was possible that Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance, paid to disabled pensioners, may be reviewed to pay for a new system of free personal care, labelled by Gordon Brown as a National Care Service. However, ministers made clear that no decisions had been made and anyone who lost benefits would be compensated.

The Conservatives said Labour's plan would lead to the abolition of the benefits, received by about 2.4 million of the elderly and disabled. The Government also faces a growing backlash from its own party. Roger Berry, a Labour MP and chair of the all-party group on disability, said he would fight attempts to withdraw the benefits. "We need to hang on to those two benefits and I would oppose it if the Government tried to remove them," he said. "I don't think they will try to remove them, but I think the elderly and disabled want control over what they spend their money on, which is why we need to keep those benefits."

Carers questioned a proposal for providing more home care for those most in need, as central planks from the Queen's Speech appeared to continue to unravel. The English Community Care Association (ECCA) said that there was "no coherent back story" explaining how the plan would be funded.

Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, accused the Tories of "disgraceful scaremongering" in suggesting benefits could simply disappear. However, he admitted that the Attendance Allowance could be reformed to pay for broader changes in the future. He added that anyone who lost out would be compensated with an "equivalent level of support".

Mr Brown announced plans for the creation of a National Care Service, to match the NHS, in his Labour conference speech in September. Mr Burnham added that a plan announced in the Queen's Speech this week to guarantee free home care for about 280,000 pensioners and disabled people most in need of extra aid, at a cost of £670m a year, would be paid for out of his department's existing budget.

But that was questioned by Martin Green, chief executive of the ECCA, as he gave evidence to the Commons Health Committee yesterday. "There appears to be no coherent back story about how this is going to be funded, what the criteria will be, how it interfaces with other aspects of the social care system," he said, adding that there needed to be more clarity on "the price to be paid at other parts of the social care budget".

The Government also came under renewed attack from the Labour peer, Lord Lipsey, a former member of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care. He said the Prime Minister had pre-empted a long-running consultation on social care in order to win some short term popularity.

"In the middle of the consultation on that, in one of the most disorderly pieces of government I have ever seen in 40 years of political life, the Prime Minister has declared that it is government policy that people with severe care needs in their own home should be paid for in full," he said. "I think that is a bad policy but I think it is also a bad way to do policy just to find a nice highlight for your Labour Party conference speech.

"What has happened is that into this very complicated but important policy process, has been injected something that is just a bit of a gimmick."

Payments under threat

£89 a week Disability Living Allowance

A tax-free benefit for those who need help with care or have walking difficulties due to mental or physical disability. Worth up to £89 a week.

Verdict: under threat

£70 a week Attendance Allowance

A benefit handed to those aged 65 or over who need help with care costs. Those who qualify will receive up to £70.35 a week.

Verdict: under threat

£95 a week Incapacity Benefit

Given to those prevented from working due to illness or disability. Payment depends on what effect disability has on ability to work. Worth up to £95.15.

Verdict: safe, for now

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test