Mixed-age couples: Impacts on benefits of ending access to pension credit and housing allowance at retirement age

Figures in this release relate to England, Scotland and Wales.

Policy background and introduction

1. A “mixed age” couple is a couple where one member is above and the other is below the minimum age for pension credit eligibility[footnote 1].

2. The pension credit is intended to provide long-term support to pensioner households who are no longer economically active due to their age. When single people claiming benefits reach state pension age, they switch from working-age benefits to retirement-age benefits.

3. Currently, mixed-age couples who need income-related benefit support can choose to apply for a working-age benefit (for new claims, now universal credit) or retirement-age benefits. retirement (pension credit and/or housing allowance for retirement age).[footnote 2].

4. Under provisions enacted in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, in future couples will only be able to access benefits linked to retirement age when both partners have reached retirement age. required. The option to claim these benefits will no longer be available to mixed-age couples. These changes will come into effect on May 15, 2019[footnote 3].

5. The change will not affect mixed-age couples who are eligible and claiming pension credit and/or housing benefit at retirement age immediately before the implementation date, unless their entitlement to both benefits ends at a later date (for example, due to a change in circumstances) and they must then reapply. Mixed-age couples who receive housing benefit at retirement age but no pension credit will still be able to reapply for pension credit after the implementation date if they need a additional help with their daily expenses, provided they are entitled to housing allowance from retirement age. on the date of the claim. Similarly, those who receive pension credit but not housing benefit at retirement age will be able to re-apply for housing benefit after the implementation date, if they need assistance. for rental costs.

Purpose of the post

6. This publication provides analysis relating to mixed-age couples estimated to be affected by the policy change, which will be implemented from 15 May 2019. In addition, it provides contextual analysis on mixed-age couples current claimants of pension credit/housing allowance for retirees.

Results

7. An estimate of the number of mixed-age couples who would have been eligible for and claimed pension credit and/or housing benefit at retirement age without the policy change is shown below (please note: these represent the estimated number for each specific year, and will include both estimated new claimants and claimants estimated to have started in a previous year. It is not appropriate to sum the numbers to obtain a cumulative total).

Table 1: Estimated mixed-age couples affected by the policy change

Year 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24
15,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000

Figures rounded to the nearest 5000.
Source: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policy modeling based on caseloads and budget 2018 spending estimates.
Note: Figures are currently updated in line with the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) planned and are subject to change after the March 13 Spring 2019 statement.

8. The policy change should result in annual managed expenses (SOUL) savings. These estimated savings for each year due to the policy change are presented in the table below.

Table 2: Overall estimate SOUL savings

Year 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24
£45 million £130 million £220 million £315 million £385m

Rounded to the nearest £5m.
Source: DWP policy modeling based on caseloads and budget 2018 spending estimates.
Note: Figures are currently updated in accordance with OBR forecasts and are subject to change after the March 13 Spring 2019 Statement.

9. To provide context in terms of estimation SOUL of savings compared to the mixed couples policy, the table below presents the total forecasts SOUL expenses for retirees during the same period.

Table 3: Expenses for pensioners (taking into account the policy of mixed couples)

Nominal terms Forecast 2019/20 Forecast 2020/21 Forecast 2021/22 Forecast 2022/23
£123,961 million £125,857 million £130,692 million £136,644 million

Source: Table 2a, Benefit Expenditure and Caseload Tables, 2018

10. The change will not affect mixed-age couples who are eligible and claiming pension credit and/or housing benefit at retirement age immediately before the implementation date, unless their right to these two benefits does not come to an end later. However, to provide additional context on mixed-age couples, the table below presents the latest available data on the number of mixed-age couples receiving pension credit and/or housing benefit at retirement age.

Table 4: Couples of mixed age, November 2018

Claim pension credit only 34,000
Apply for housing benefit only 25,000
Claiming both pension credit and housing benefit 55,000
Total number of mixed-age couples receiving pension credit/housing benefit 115,000

Note: round to the nearest thousand
Source: DWP Longitudinal study on work and pensions (WPLS)

11. Additional feature information is available from the scan WPLS for these mixed couples and is presented below.

12. Of the 115,000 mixed-age couples eligible and claiming pension credit or housing allowance for retirees at the end of November 2018, around 56% were also claiming a disability benefit.[footnote 4] (attendance allowance, disability living allowance or personal independence payment). This compares to around 61% for all couples claiming pension credit or housing benefit for retirees.

13. The vast majority of mixed-age couples were made up of a man and a woman, with less than 1% estimated to be same-sex partners.

14. 84% of these mixed couples included an older partner (above retirement age) who is a man.

Declaration of compliance with the Code of Good Practice for Statistics

The Code of Good Practice for Statistics (the Code) is built around 3 main concepts, or pillars:

  • reliability
  • quality
  • assess

The following explains how we have applied the pillars of the Code in a proportionate manner.

Reliability – is having confidence in the people and organizations that publish statistics

Professional analysts have independently produced the relevant forecast figures and planned expenditures from DWP forecasting models and whose quality has been fully ensured by DWP analysts.

Quality – involves using data and methods that produce reliable statistics

The figures presented are taken from forecasting models that feed into the service expenditure tables published by the Ministry. The rigorous production of the forecast figures ensures that they are our best central estimates of the number of people affected and the associated expenditure based on the information available. The figures have been subject to independent quality assurance and validation.

Value – consists of publishing statistics that meet the information needs of society

This release provides analysis relating to mixed couples affected by the policy change, which will be implemented from 15 May 2019. In addition, it aims to reduce the administrative burden associated with responding to parliamentary questions, access requests information and ad hoc requests to ensure timely responses to questions from the public.

In order to support financial planning and the management of departmental affairs, the figures were seen in advance by ministers and public servants, in accordance with the Code, where pre-release access does not apply to a release ad hoc analysis.

For press inquiries, contact DWP Press office on 0203 267 5144.