A Parliamentary question tabled by Labour has revealed that 40,000 pensioners are set to lose an average of £5,500 a year as a result of no longer being eligible to claim Pension Credit.
The Government has announced that from May, mixed-age couples on low incomes will no longer be eligible to claim Pension Credit when the older partner reaches State Pension age if the other hasn’t, but will have to claim Universal Credit instead.
Labour say this breaches the Conservative Party 2017 election manifesto pledge to safeguard all pensioners’ benefits except winter fuel payments.
The number of couples affected is likely to rise further as more couples are required to claim Universal Credit rather than Pension Credit over time.
There are currently 115,000 mixed-age couples claiming Pension Credit or pension-age Housing Benefit.
The change was slipped out on 14th January, on the eve of the vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
It is a major cut in support for pensioners that will total £400 million over the next 3 years.
The younger partner will also potentially be subject to the sanctions regime and required to look for work if they are not already in employment.
That may be difficult for some people if they have to take on caring responsibilities for their older partner, say Labour.
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.”
Disclaimer: This is an official press release from the Labour Party. Images added by Welfare Weekly.