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Disgusting, that’s how the government have once again acted towards welfare claimants. Last night the government quietly out a written statement confirming that couples with only one pension age claimant will no longer be able to jointly claim Pension Credit from May this year.
Couples with one pension age claimant and one below the state pension age, are currently able to claim Pension Credit as a joint claim, From 15th May this year to make a joint claim the youngest in the couple will also have to be over their pension age.
This means that from May couples will be forced to claim Universal Credit instead. According to Gareth Morgan from the website; Benefits in The Future, who first picked this up, this will see couples lose approximately £7300 a year because of the difference in benefit rates.
As usual, this change is aimed at pushing people into work and I suspect, save some (a lot) cash. In the statement, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion, Guy Opperman MP said;
“This change will ensure that the same work incentives apply to the younger partner as apply to other people of the same age, and taxpayer support is directed where it is needed most.”
The change will have long term ramifications for couples. If someone who is of pension age forms a cohabiting relationship with someone under pension age, they will be forced onto Universal Credit.
This is something that is totally unfair and completely unnecessary.
Universal Credit is designed to support people who are in or looking for work, it is not designed to support people who no longer need to or cannot work. The government may say it supports those unable to work, but there’s mountains of evidence to dispel that myth.
What’s more, if the younger member of the couple is disabled or sick, they will be faced with the minefield that is a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
It is unclear when current Pension Credit couples affected will be moved but, given that they’re not ready to move legacy benefit claimants to UC, it’s a wonder they’re so sure of they can pull this off.
Given that Universal Credit has been in the news so much this week, it’s no surprise the government snuck this announcement out the eve before the Brexit vote. It is far less likely to get any meaningful mainstream news coverage as they’ll be too busy frothing over the so called “meaningful vote.”
This change may affect my own parents. My mother, who’s disabled, is part of my fathers joint Pension Credit claim. She also happens to be one of the 1950s women affected by a change in their state pension age.
If the government decide to migrate current couples, my two severely disabled parents will be forced onto Universal Credit. They already require help but this change could prove catastrophic as, many council services deem you’re entitled to free care ONLY if you’re on pension credit.
The only advice I can give just now is to any mixed pension age couples who haven’t claimed Pension Credit. Claim it before May 15th 2019 as this will at least delay you being forced onto Universal Credit.
If you are unsure of anything related to benefits, please contact you’re local Citizens Advice or other advocacy agencies.