Pension credit: Tories ‘sneak’ in change that could cost couples £7,000 a year

The pension credit change is set to come into effect on May 15 – and the date was announced at 7.20pm on the eve of the Brexit vote

A big change is coming for older couples on May 15

Last night ministers were accused of ‘covering up’ changes to pensioners’ benefits which experts say could cost some older couples more than £7,000 a year.

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman announced the changes at 7.20pm on the eve of the decisive vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Changes made by the Department for Work and Pensions will reduce the number of people eligible for pension credit, which supplements the income of the poorest pensioners.

Couples in which one is over the legal retirement age, currently 65 for both men and women, and the other is not, will no longer receive the benefit.

It will come into effect from May 15, when new relevant claims will be opened nationwide to qualify for Universal Six-in-One Credit.

Former pensions minister Steve Webb has suggested the move could make it worse for some couples over £7,000, as pension credit tends to be higher than working-age benefits.







Couples where one is over the statutory retirement age, currently 65 for both men and women, and the other is not, will no longer receive the benefit
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DWP insiders claimed the plans were made when Sir Steve, now director of policy at pension provider Royal London, was the responsible minister.

They denied the changes were deliberately released to coincide with the Brexit vote, suggesting instead they were announced on the first day of the decision to implement them.

Minister Guy Opperman also said: “Couples with a partner under state retirement age who are already receiving pension credit or housing benefit at retirement age at the time of change will not be affected as long as they continue to be entitled to either benefit.”

But Sir Steve told the Financial Times: ‘A single day’s difference in the timing of a claim could cost a couple over £7,000 the following year, while putting pressure on the couple’s youngest member to look for work.







Former minister Steve Webb claimed: ‘A difference of just one day in the timing of a claim could cost upwards of £7,000 the following year’
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“Under the proposed rules, couples where one partner is over retirement age and not expected to be looking for work will get the same rate as a couple where both partners are under retirement age. retirement and where both are expected to look for work.

‘Those who may be affected deserve to know about this change and not see it slipping away on a day when ministers were no doubt hoping everyone’s attention was directed elsewhere.’

A DWP spokesperson said: “In 2012 Parliament voted to modernize this system for new claims so that only pensioners receive pension credit.







DWP insiders have claimed the plans were made when Sir Steve, now policy director at pension provider Royal London, was the responsible minister
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“Currently, a couple can switch from working-age benefits to retirement-age benefits when the older partner in the couple reaches retirement age.

“The new rules mean this now happens when the younger partner also reaches statutory retirement age.”

Mixed couples in which a partner has not reached the legal retirement age and who already benefit from a pension credit or a housing allowance for retirement age will not be affected.