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Pension Credit: Age UK condemns DWP over ‘wrong and unfair’ changes with one week until reform



Posted on: 9th May 2019

A benefits reform that will leave some of the poorest older people worse off by up to £7,000 a year has been branded “wrong and unfair” by Age UK. The charity has accused the Government of putting the needs of pensioners on the line with these cuts. As such, it is calling on older people to check their eligibility for Pension Credit before the reform takes place next week.

From 15th May, pensioners with younger partners will no longer be eligible for pension credit. Couples with one over the state pension age and one under, known as mixed-age couples, will have to claim Universal Credit. Until both partners are of the state pension age, they will not be eligible for Pension Credit. It is thought that 40,000 couples will be affected.

Waiting for the Benefit

Some mixed-age couples could be up to £7,000 a year worse off, leaving them struggling to pay their bills and more. Some pensioners could be waiting years for their partner to reach the state pension age before they can receive the benefit.

Age UK is urging pensioners with younger partners to see if they are eligible for Pension Credit and put in a claim before 14th May.

“We are really concerned that this policy change will hurt significant numbers of older people who are trying to get by on a low income, pushing many over the edge into poverty,” said Age UK’s charity director Caroline Abrahams in an interview with iNews.

“Government statements suggest that the needs and interests of these pensioners are being sacrificed in pursuit of their policy of ensuring everyone of working age is incentivised to get a job, and that seems profoundly wrong and unfair. We hope that even at this stage the Government can be persuaded to change their minds and in the meantime, we urge anyone who thinks they may be entitled to Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit to contact us and put in a claim by 14 May.

“It really could make a big difference to them, potentially boosting their incomes by many thousands of pounds over the next few years.”

Backdated claims

After the change comes into play next week, claims can be backdated for couples who were eligible for Pension credit any date before 15th May. In this case, couples must apply by 13th August 2019. Mixed-age couples who already receive Pension Credit will not be affected after reform unless there is a change in circumstance.

The DWP said, “This change was voted on by Parliament in 2012 and means, for new claims from 15 May, only pensioners can claim Pension Credit. If one partner is of working age, we believe it’s fair that the same incentives to work and save for retirement apply as they do for other people of the same age. We have updated online guidance and written to all eligible mixed-age couples to make them aware of the changes, which won’t affect them unless their circumstances change.”

How to check your Pension Credit Eligibility

You can check your eligibility and claim by phone. To do this, you will need your National Insurance number, information regarding your income, savings and investments, as well as your bank account details. The Pension Credit claim line is open Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm.

  • Telephone – 0800 99 1234
  • Textphone – 0800 169 0133
  • NGT text relay – 18001 then 0800 99 1234

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