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Suffolk: MP Therese Coffey rejects calls for winter fuel payments to be means-tested

PUBLISHED: 17:44 03 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:38 04 January 2013

MP Therese Coffey has rejected calls for winter fuel payments to be means-tested

MP Therese Coffey has rejected calls for winter fuel payments to be means-tested

Archant

KEY figures in Suffolk have rejected calls for winter fuel payments to be means-tested.

Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow proposed targeting the allowance for all but the poorest of pensioners to help pay for a fairer system of state support for old age care.

Mr Burstow said the savings would fund reforms by the Dilnot Commission, which is proposing a £35,000 cap on the amount individuals have to pay towards their social care.

Currently, elderly people in England have to contribute to their own care costs if they have savings of more than £23,000.

But Mr Burstow’s idea has been rejected by both Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and Stephen Singleton, chief executive of The Suffolk Foundation.

Dr Coffey, a Conservative, said her party should stick to its election pledge and maintain the winter fuel allowance as it currently stands. And last night David Cameron backed that view, confirming he was sticking to his guns and keeping the payments.

The Suffolk Foundation, in partnership with the East Anglian Daily Times, has raised more than £50,000 this year by asking people, if they can afford it, to donate their payments. The money from the campaign, called Surviving Winter, is used to help the vulnerable stay warm.

Mr Singleton said: “There’s already a mechanism in place all over the country where people can reallocate their winter fuel allowance and help people.”

He added the cost of setting up the means-testing of winter fuel payments would offset any benefits.

Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: “It’s a shame that someone didn’t buy Mr Burstow a calculator for Christmas - because if they had he would have realised that his plan just doesn’t add up.

“Introducing a means-tested system will create a costly and inefficient bureaucracy which evidence shows will result in those who need it most failing to come forward to make a claim.

“Our social care system doesn’t need this kind of tinkering at the edges - but a radical overhaul. Taking money from pensioners who are trying to keep warm this winter on just over £10,500 a year will only create more fuel poverty and ultimately lead to more older people dying from the cold.”

A man in his late 20s has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after he crashed his car in Ipswich.

A woman in her 30s was rushed to hospital after two men dressed in black hoodies threw a mystery liquid into her face during a “random” attack.

The family of Corrie McKeague will today be out on the streets of Bury St Edmunds talking to members of the public to mark the year anniversary of his disappearance.

A teenager who had to be freed from the wreckage of a car by firefighters following a crash in Essex today is fighting for his life in hospital.

As the deadline for Stars of Suffolk nominations approaches, organiser Mick Parker is looking ahead to the “emotional and wonderful” annual ceremony that brings together the county’s unsung heroes for one night of celebration.

An 18-year-old woman who went missing from her home in Essex has been found safe.

The BurySOUND music competition is looking for up and coming bands to sign up for next year’s event - as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

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