Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and MSP Alasdair have slammed the Tory government in London for ‘sneaking out’ changes to state pensions which could affect older couples to the tune of £7,000 per year.
Changes to benefits for mixed-age couples – which will be introduced from 15 May 2019 - were quietly released by Tory ministers on the evening of Theresa May’s humiliating Brexit-deal defeat.
Currently, couples can claim Pension Credit - an income related benefit meant to top up the state pension as long as one partner is of pension age. Universal Credit will reverse this – meaning a mixed-age couple will be defined by the working-age person, not the pensioner.
Experts have claimed that the changes could leave some pensioners almost £7,000 worse off per year, and Age UK warned that it could leave “some of the poorest pensioners paying a hefty price for having a younger partner.”
Alasdair Allan MSP, who sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, said:“People will rightly be aghast that the UK Government tried to quietly bury the news that new pensioners with younger partners are set to lose out on hundreds of pounds each month.
“Amid the chaos and distraction of Brexit, those who may be affected by this change in the islands deserve to know about it, and have been let down by UK government attempts to ‘sneak out’ the news at 7.20pm on the night of the Brexit vote.
“Serious concerns over the Tory government’s welfare policies have already been raised by my SNP colleagues at Westminster and, at Holyrood, the SNP will continue to tackle poverty and create a social security system based on equality, fairness and dignity.”
Angus Brendan MacNeil MP saidd: “This change was brought in amongst the ongoing chaos of Brexit, showing complete disregard for those who will lose hundreds of £s a month. The SNP at Westminster are pressing the UK Government to reverse this cut which will hit those on the lowest incomes.”