Up to 10% of Scottish applicants for pension credit could be hit by a Tory cut of up to £7000 a year, according to new analysis by SPICe.
Currently, couples are able to claim pension credit if one of the partners is over the state retirement age of 65.
The Tories are now forcing mixed-age couples to apply for Universal Credit instead – meaning a cut in income of up to £7000 a year.
Independent analysts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) found that 10% of individuals in Scottish households claiming pension credit were likely to be affected.
According to the data, 6% of households claiming pension credit cold be affected by the change, while 10% of individuals in households claiming PC could also be affected.
Taking into account the current Scottish PC caseload of 159,891 claimants in May 2018, if the rule change was in full effect 6% of these would no longer be eligible – equalling around 9,600.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “This is just the latest harmful and unnecessary Tory cut that will punish pensioners in need simply for having a partner younger than them.
“With Amber Rudd recently admitting that Universal Credit was pushing people towards foodbanks, it is beyond belief that the Tories are determined to force pensioners onto that system – and at a massive financial cost.
“No wonder the Tories snuck this announcement out in the middle of their Brexit chaos.
“The UK government must urgently think again.”
Across the UK, the changes to pension credit it expected to affect around 40,000 mixed-age pensioner couples. Each losing an average of £5,500 a year.
There are currently 115,000 mixed-age couples claiming Pension Credit or pension-age Housing Benefit.
Pension Credit is means-tested and passports people to other support such as free prescriptions and full Housing Benefit, so not being eligible for it will make a real difference to the level of support mixed-age couples on low income will receive in the future.
Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Pensioners on low incomes should not have to lose out on Pension Credit just because their partner is younger than them.
“Pensioner poverty is already on the rise and this change clearly breaks the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to protect pensioners’ benefits.
“These are people on low incomes who not only may receive significantly less support under Universal Credit, but also find that their younger partner could be subject to the unfair sanctions regime.
“Labour will ensure that older people get the support they need to enjoy security and dignity in retirement.”