I would like to take the opportunity to correct some of the misconceptions that have been worrying people about proposed measures in the Conservative manifesto regarding state pensions and social care.

Over the last seven years the Conservative led Government has delivered some of the highest ever increases in state pensions through the triple lock and has also protected all pensioner allowances.   As a result, pensioner poverty is at its lowest level ever. The increase of the State Pension by 75p a week in 2000 by the Labour Government, which caused such an outcry, was perhaps the low point in recent times, but thankfully those days are over. The new pension proposals in the Conservative manifesto will deliver the Triple Lock until 2020, followed by a rise aligned to average wages or inflation – whichever is the highest. So pensions will still rise, contrary to what some are falsely suggesting.

All pensioner benefits such as free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences will be maintained by the next Conservative Government but, after years of people asking why they were receiving money in Winter Fuel Payments that they did not need, this allowance will be linked to pensioner income with the level set after extensive consultation with charities and pensioner groups.   All the money saved from this change will go to support the spiralling social care budget and I think this is an absolutely fair and sensible proposal as do many people I have talked to over the past few days.

Social care will receive some more funding as a result of these changes but it is quite clear that the system needs a full overhaul.   Prices of care are spiralling; many people are not getting the support they need and the current funding arrangements are complex and unfair. And with more than two million more people over 75 years old in Britain over the next decade alone, the system will collapse unless we have a Government which is not afraid to address the issue.

Currently, all social care is means tested, with the amount you pay linked to your income or assets. But there is a difference in means testing depending on whether you receive care in your own home or in residential accommodation.   If you receive care in your home (domiciliary care), through the local authority, then your income and assets excluding your house are included in means testing. However, if you move into residential care, then the amount you pay can be taken from your income and assets including your house right down to the last £23,250.   Under our plans, whether you receive domiciliary or residential care, the means test is based on the same income and assets, including property, but the means tested threshold will go up to £100,000. This means that instead of £23,250, you will be able to pass on a minimum of £100,000 as an inheritance –a fourfold increase. There will also be an absolute cap set on the amount people must pay and no one will have to sell their house in their lifetime to pay for care of any sort.

The advantage of this change is that many people currently move between the two care systems (domiciliary or residential care) depending on their health and needs but with different assessments you cannot make reliable financial plans or choose the right care plan for your needs. Under our proposals, people will be able to get the care level and quality that suits them secure in the knowledge that the funding plan is consistent and fair.   It is also fair to those who are paying for others’ social care out of their taxes; and with those of us who will be needing care in the next few decades relying on a smaller group of working age people, again this seems like a very sensible move.

There have been questions about cap levels and interest rates and all of the final details will be worked out after the Election in a Green Paper, which will also set out key proposals to link up social care and the NHS as is being done successfully in some pilot areas and which has seen real improvements in reduced hospital stays and the provision of better care. As social care Minister 2015-16 I worked on this integration, and know that the right systems make a significant difference. If elected, I will follow these proposals closely and will be happy to speak up to ensure we get the best possible social care plans as a result.

Although difficult, because nothing which needs doing in healthcare is simple, these plans are sensible and provide the beginning of a solution to social care without increasing taxes on younger generations. I do not believe other Parties have truly grasped the long term implications of aiming mainly at taxpayers as the answer, and will not be able to maintain such a position if ever in Government.