Future of universal benefits unclear
Published on 06 January 2014 12:30 PM
Uncertainty still surrounds commitments the Conservative party will make to protecting from austerity measures the benefits better-off older people are entitled to.
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged that his party will protect the basic state pension from cuts until at least 2020 if it wins the next General Election.
But he has been under increasing pressure to abandon his party's 2010 election promise to protect other perks that well-off older people are entitled to.
Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is said to favour a change and Chancellor George Osborne has said the affordability of the benefits after 2015 must be scrutinised.
Labour, meanwhile, has said it would take winter fuel payments away from the wealthiest older people with the Liberal Democrats saying they would bring in means testing for the benefits.
Older people benefits could be squeezed
And, speaking to the BBC, Mr Cameron did not rule out a squeeze on benefits such as winter fuel payments, free bus passes and TV licences for those better off.
Asked if the party's 2010 election pledge would be repeated he told the Andrew Marr Show: 'We will set out our plans at the next election in our manifesto.'
But a Downing Street source said the Prime Minister is still 'attracted' to repeating the 2010 promise to protect the universal pay-outs, adding that his statement did not indicate the policy would be abandoned.
The source said: 'The PM has kept his promise for this Parliament. He is attracted to repeating it for the next Parliament.
'But the next manifesto is still over a year away and no final decisions have yet been taken.'
'Triple lock' guarantee for basic state pension
Mr Cameron has recently said the basic state pension will continue to benefit from the 'triple lock' guarantee until at least 2020 if his party wins the next election.
The guarantee means the basic state pension rises by 2.5% or in line with inflation or wages, whichever one is the highest.
He has said continuing the 'triple lock' guarantee had been made possible by extending the state retirement age which will mean millions of people now aged in their 30s and 40s will have to wait longer before getting their pension.
Copyright Press Association 2014