Millions of pensioners will lose winter fuel payments under Conservative plans to increase funding for social care, Theresa May will announce on Thursday.
The Conservative Party general election manifesto, published tomorrow, will pledge that no elderly people will have to sell their home to pay for care - until they die.
The prime minister will say her manifesto, titled “Forward, Together”, will ensure social care is “fundamentally fairer, better funded and more sustainable”.
Pensioners currently receive between £100 and £300 a year to help pay for heating bills.
But the Tories will today announce plans to means-test the benefit so it is only given to the least-well off. The money saved will be transferred directly to health and social care.
Winter fuel payments are the the largest benefit paid to pensioners. Critics of the universal nature of the payments argue it gives money to rich pensioners when working people on lower incomes do not get similar support.
Launching her manifesto tomorrow, May will say the policy programme “sets out a vision for Britain’s future – not just for the next five years, but beyond”.
“This is my plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future. It is a declaration of intent: a commitment to get to grips with the great challenges of our time and to take the big, difficult decisions that are right for Britain in the long term,” she will say.
Barbara Keeley, Labour’s Shadow Mental Health Minister, said: “You can’t trust the Tories’ promises on social care. In their last manifesto they promised a cap on care costs. But they broke their promise, letting older and vulnerable people down.
“It’s the Tories who have pushed social care into crisis; their cuts to councils have meant £4.6bn axed from social care budgets between 2010-2015, leaving 1.2 million people struggling to get by without care. And NHS bosses have recently said that the money the Tories promised them won’t help alleviate the problems, with bosses warning the system won’t see anything like the level of resource required.”
In her speech on Thursday, May will say: “The next five years are the most challenging that Britain has faced in my lifetime. Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity.
“Now more than ever, Britain needs a strong and stable government to get the best deal for our country. Now more than ever, Britain needs a strong and stable leadership to make the most of the opportunities that Brexit brings.
“People are rightly sceptical of politicians who claim to have easy answers to deeply complex problems. It is the responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead and the hard work required to overcome them.
“Above all, it will require a unity of purpose stretching across this precious union of nations, from north to south and east to west. For as we embark on the momentous journey ahead of us over the next few years, our shared values, interests and ambitions can – and must – bring us together as a united country.”