The UK Government should abandon its planned cuts to Pension Credit, said Alasdair Allan MSP during a Scottish Parliament debate on the subject.
Pension Credit is a benefit designed to help low-income pensioner households.
From Wednesday 15 May onward, newly retired pensioners will be barred from claiming Pension Credit if they have a younger partner, and will instead be forced on to Universal Credit.
There are estimates that the impact of these changes on the average claimant will be in the region of between £5,000 and £6,000 per year.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Thursday May 9th), Alasdair Allan MSP said: “It is clear that changes to Pension Credit are going to have a significant impact on mixed-age pensioner households when they come into force next week. For the UK Government to penalise people simply for having a younger partner is completely unacceptable.
“This is a benefit designed for some of our poorest pensioners, and they should not be forced to pay the price for the Tories’ ideologically driven cuts to welfare.
“The Tories must urgently reverse this attack on low-income pensioners.”
Pension credit is a means tested benefit which is paid at the state pension age for women. Since November 2018, the state pension age has been 65 for both men and women. It is rising to 66 by October 2020.
The ‘standard minimum guarantee‘ tops up incomes to a certain guarantee level. In 2019/20 this will be £255.25 for couples.
Changes to be brought in on 15 May mean that a ‘mixed age couple’ (that is a couple where one partner is a pensioner and the other under pension age) will be considered to be a ‘working age’ couple for the purposes of means-tested benefits.
Up to now, mixed age couples have been able to choose to claim either Pension Credit or working age benefits. However, on 14 January 2019 the UK Government announced that from 15th May 2019, both partners in a couple will need to have reached State Pension age in order to claim Pension Credit or pension age Housing Benefit.
The UK Government has said that currently 115,000 mixed age couples across the United Kingdom are receiving Pension Credit and or Housing Benefit. The DWP has not provided a breakdown of the impact in Scotland.
Couples that claim after 15 May could be as much as £140 a week, or £7000 a year, worse off compared to a couple claiming today - this represents the difference between the standard Universal Credit and Pension Credit rates for couples.
A link to Alasdair Allan’s contribution to today’s debate can be found here: