Keith Brown MSP has called on all pensioners living on a low income with a partner of working age to urgently check their eligibility for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit and put in a claim before the Government changes the rules on 15th May.
The UK Government’s change, snuck out during the first ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit in January, will see the right to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit – important tools in the fight against pensioner poverty – withdrawn from future claimants who happen to have a partner who hasn’t yet reached their own pensionable age.
This move will have severe financial consequences for all those affected. Keith Brown MSP and Age Scotland are warning that this could have a devastating impact on some of Clackmannanshire’s poorest older residents.
Keith Brown MSP and Age Scotland are urging anyone who may be entitled to claim benefits to call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for a free benefit and entitlements check before 15th May.
Age Scotland is warning that by slashing the entitlements of couples needing to claim support in the future by as much as £7,000 a year, the new policy will place some pensioners in the absurd position of being financially better off if they split up and live apart from their younger partner. This is because once the change is implemented, the older partner could be eligible for significantly more money by claiming Pension Credit as a single person than if the pair of them claim Universal Credit as a couple.
Although in theory this change will not impact on existing claimants the Charity is warning that if a so-called ‘mixed-age couple’ temporarily loses their eligibility for these benefits because of a change in their personal or financial circumstances, from May they will be unable to regain it and will be thrown back onto the Universal Credit regime, the problems of which are well documented.
Commenting, Keith Brown MSP said:
“These reforms are nothing less than an unashamed attack on pensioner’s entitlements by Westminster and will have a devastating impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable pensioners across Clackmannanshire.
“The Tories seem intent on inflicting harm on those who need our support the most and this latest reform to pension credits stands in stark contrast to the SNP’s approach to social security.
“I would urge older people across Clackmannanshire to claim the benefits they are entitled to now before the rule changes on the 15th of May.
“If anyone is unclear on what they can claim, please contact Age Scotland or Clackmannanshire Citizens Advice on 01259 219404.
“It is clear that Westminster can’t be trusted to protect pensioner entitlements and the only way to do so is in an independent Scotland.”
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:
“Around one in six pensioners living in Scotland are in poverty and this retrograde move will do nothing to improve this.
“Beyond the Pension Credit support, these mixed age couples could also miss out on a range of ‘passported benefits’ such as housing benefit, council tax reduction, cold weather payments, support for dental and eyecare costs, perhaps even the warm home discount. All in, this could mean that the loss of financial support for those on the lowest income could be well over £7000 a year. That is wholly unacceptable and the UK Government must change course.
“It is vital that older people ensure that they claim everything they are entitled to. The Age Scotland Helpline offers free benefit and entitlement checks and can support older people with pension credit claims. Call 0800 12 44 222 before the 15th May for information and advice about these changes.”