Pensioners not on high incomes could be adversely affected
But pensions expert Dr Ros Altmann says that although reforming social care is urgent, taking away WFP from millions of pensioners already struggling with their heating bills is not the answer.
The WFP is already effectively part of the state pension and Dr Altmann says: "The reason we have all WFP is because our basic state pension is so low - one of the lowest in the developed world.
"Of course, in theory, it makes little sense to pay money to wealthy pensioners who do not really need it, but then will the next step be to say that these pensioners don't need the rest of their state pension either? Taxing these payments would raise some money, but means-testing would be a disaster."
Dr Altmann believes that taking money away from older people who have been prudent in providing for their own future would be a further disincentive to hard-working people who have set money aside for retirement. Means-testing would also be complex, inefficient and costly in terms of administration.
Money must also to set aside for urgent social care reforms, but tying WFP to pension credit would be a disaster for millions of pensioners who saved hard all their lives, and have a little extra retirement income as a result of their efforts.
Dr Altmann says: "These pensioners, or those who refuse to claim, will be punished by the extension of means-testing. We need less means-testing - not more - to ensure that those who save for their future do not lose out heavily, and to be certain that all those who need the money do receive it."
And what impact would this have on pensioners on lower incomes? "Not many pensioners are on high incomes," explained Dr Altmann. "Only two per cent of pensioners pay the higher rate tax. Most older people are not living on high incomes, so pensioner benefits and the state pension are of the utmost importance to millions of people."
A solution to the care crisis is also urgently needed. "Of course we are in no doubt that the cost of social care is one of the biggest issues facing this country, but taking away pensioner benefits is not the answer.
"As we await the release of the Care White Paper, we hope that it will outline a fairer partnership between state help and individuals paying for some of their own care costs, with incentives for care savings plans."
But any solution must not be overshadowed by an increase in deaths among pensioners and Dr Altmann added: "As energy bills reach record highs, taking away the Winter Fuel Payment from pensioners who have modest incomes will risk many more older people dying of cold.
"Every winter, more than 20,000 pensioners die of cold in this country and these excess winter deaths would increase if more pensioners were denied this payment."