Monday, January 20, 2020

Tories challenged over ‘outrageous’ pension credit cut

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The SNP has tabled a motion forcing the UK government to give MPs a vote on the cut to Pension Credit, which would see the lowest income pensioners lose up to £7,000 per year.

The provision was made in the Welfare Reform Act back in 2012, but now the UK Government has given their intention to implement this clause without a debate – seven years and two governments later.

Pension Credit is a benefit designed to top up income for pensioners who have a weekly income below a certain amount.

This change would mean that for couples where one person is of state pension age and the other is below, the individual in receipt of state pension would no longer be eligible to claim Pension Credit to top up their household income.

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Age UK has pointed out that couples claiming in the future could be £140 a week worse off than before the change.

Statutory Instruments are small pieces of legislation which are usually designated as either ‘affirmative procedure’ – need to be passed by both Houses – or ‘negative procedure’ – if MPs table a motion against it which has enough support, it can be debated.

However, this cut is being brought in by legislation with no mechanism for debate.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one in six pensioners in the UK lives in poverty – up from one in ten 22 years ago.

Commenting, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Neil Gray MP said: “It is outrageous that the UK Government are content with slipping through a huge change to Pension Credit without allowing MPs to vote on these substantial changes passed two governments ago.

“These sweeping changes are brought forward only two months after the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s UK Poverty 2018 Report, which highlighted that previous falls in pensioner poverty were in part due to the introduction of Pension Credit.

“The UK Government must urgently make time to debate these changes on the floor of the House so that MPs have the opportunity to make their view heard on them. To ignore these calls would be a democratic outrage.”

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