David Cameron has continued the Conservatives approach of attempting to woo the ‘grey vote’, by pledging to protect pensioner benefits.
The Tory leader has promised not to introduce means-testing for pensioner benefits such as bus passes, TV licences and the Winter Fuel Payment.
In a speech Mr Cameron said it was a “fundamental duty” to care for older people who have worked all their lives, and that the payments were not an “unnecessary luxury”.
The pledge is in stark contrast to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats who would means-test some pensioner benefits, which could result in wealthier pensioners losing some entitlements.
Mr Cameron said: “In 2010, I looked down the barrel of the camera and made a clear commitment to the British people that I would keep these things.
“And that wasn’t a commitment for five years – it was a commitment for as long as I am prime minister.”
He added: “If you’ve worked hard during your life, saved, paid your taxes, done the right thing, you deserve dignity when you retire.
“These people have fought wars, seen us through recessions – made this the great country it is today.
“They brought us into the world and cared for us, and now it’s our turn – our fundamental duty – to care for them.”
However, the Conservatives pledge to ring-fence pensioner benefits has been criticised by their coalition partners, who say David Cameron would balance the nations books “on the backs of disabled people and the working age poor”.
The Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: “The working age poor will pay the price for the Conservative ring fence for the very wealthiest pensioners.
“The Conservatives are proposing £12bn of welfare cuts which is the equivalent of a £1500 cut for eight million people.
“By ruling out any changes to benefits of wealthy pensioners they are showing their determination to balance the books solely on the backs of disabled people and the working age poor.”
Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“David Cameron’s government has let millions of pensioners down, failing to act on rising fuel costs and rip off pension fees and charges.
“Pensioners will find it hard to take pre-election promises seriously from a Prime Minister who has introduced the granny tax, increased VAT, and caused the Tory NHS crisis which has damaged social care services.
“Labour has a better plan for pensioners. We will support the triple lock, freeze energy bills and ensure savers are protected against pension rip-off pension charges and mis-selling.
“As part of our plan to get the deficit down in a fairer way, we will stop paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners and reverse David Cameron’s tax cut for millionaires.
“Accusations that we will end pensioner benefits are simply untrue.”