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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence