Changes to pension credit could make some couples worse off by £7,000 a year, Age UK has warned.
Earlier this week, the government announced changes to benefits for mixed couples which will be introduced from May 15, 2019.
Age UK said the change could leave “some of the poorest pensioners paying a heavy price for having a younger partner”.
He said the announcement came amid the “Brexit distraction”.
The charity said the changes effectively mean some couples could find themselves in the “absurd position” of being better off financially if they break up and live apart.
He said this is because once the change is implemented, the retired partner would, in many cases, be eligible for more money from his pension credit than he and his partner would come together with the credit. universal.
At present, couples can claim a pension credit of £255.25 a week if only one of them has reached statutory retirement age.
But in future people in such circumstances may only be able to claim less generous Universal Credit payments of around £115 a week, Age UK said – a difference that could amount to around £7,000 £ per year.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, described the change as “a substantial stealth cut”.
The changes were announced by the government on Monday.
He said in 2012 Parliament voted ‘to modernize the system’, ensuring that the young partner is in the same circumstances as other people of the same age, regardless of their partner’s age.
Mixed-age couples with a partner who is below retirement age and already receiving pension credit or housing benefit at retirement age at the time of the change will not be affected as long as they will continue to be entitled to either benefit, the government said.
But Age UK raised concerns that while “in theory” the change would not impact existing claimants, if a mixed-age couple temporarily lost eligibility for pension credit, from of May 15, he could then “be thrown on the universal credit scheme, the problems of which are well known”.
Abrahams continued: “It is by no means unusual for one partner to be slightly older than the other in a relationship and the greater the age gap between them, the greater the negative impact on them will be lasting.”
In a written statement, Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said earlier: “The Pension Credit is designed to sustainably support retired households who are no longer economically active.
“It is not designed to support applicants of working age.
“This change will ensure that the same work incentives apply to the young partner as apply to others of the same age, and taxpayer support is directed where it is most needed.”