‘Stealth cut’ not missed by charity

Elderly couple

Age Scotland has hit out at a benefit cut - announced amongst the Brexit chaos - to Pension Credit

18th January 2019 by Gareth Jones 2 Comments

A charity has hit out at a ‘stealth move’ to cut benefits for the elderly.

Amidst the Brexit chaos this week, the UK Government announced that mixed age couples – where one partner is of working age and the other is above State Pension age – will no longer be entitled to claim for Pension Credit.

Age Scotland has hit out at the move, which it says will hit poorest couples the hardest and could cost them as much as £7,000 a year.

The policy, implemented on 15 May, will mean that mixed age couples will rely on Universal Credit, which is less money than if the pensioner partner were single and applying for Pension Credit.

The new policy in theory is expected to only impact new claimants. However, the charity warns that for mixed age couples who temporarily lose their eligibility for Pension Credit, they will be unable to regain it after May and will be placed on Universal Credit. This could happen if the pensioner partner travels abroad to see relatives for more than four weeks at a time.

Age Scotland’s chief executive, Brian Sloan said the stealth announcement had not gone unnoticed by charities.

He said: “Such an outrageous new policy will do nothing but penalise older couples of mixed age, making them poorer for living together. This substantial cut to many older couples’ finances was sneakily announced as Brexit and no confidence votes dominated the House of Commons as a way of burying bad news. It will have a devastating impact on the health of Scotland’s poorest pensioners as they struggle to pay bills and heat their homes.

“Right now, we know that four in 10 pensioner couples have difficulty paying their fuel bill, with those in rural areas most affected. Pension credit can help older people out of fuel poverty. Without this income boost even more older people throughout the country could find themselves in poverty, which is an wholly unacceptable.

“The UK Government must have thought we wouldn’t notice. But we have and they must rethink this absurd policy.”

Pensions minister Guy Opperman said: “This replaces the previous system whereby the household could access either pension credit and pension age housing benefit, or working-age benefits.

“Pension credit is designed to provide long-term support for pensioner households who are no longer economically active. It is not designed to support working age claimants.

“This change will ensure that the same work incentives apply to the younger partner as apply to other people of the same age, and taxpayer support is directed where it is needed most.”

23rd January 2019 by Joanna Higgs

surely this can amount to discrimination? if older people are entitled to the higher income due to their age then people who are in mixed age couples are being excluded from this simply because of the age of their partner. this cannot be fair, just or reasonable. I hope to see this change challenged soon.

28th January 2019 by Lok Yue

Like Mr. Salmond?