DWP ‘sneak’ out change that could cost older couples £7,000 per year

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has “sneaked out” an announcement that will cut benefits available to some older ‘mixed age’ couples by over £7,000 per year.

The changes will see couples make the transition from working age benefits to pension age benefits when the younger partner reaches state pension age.

Previously, the transition would take place once only one partner had reached state pension age and applied for Pension Credit in their name.

The announcement was released yesterday (14 January) at 7:22pm and will take effect on 15 May 2019.

Commenting on the announcement, Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, said that the DWP had “sneaked out” the announcement “on a day when ministers were no doubt hoping that everyone’s attention was directed somewhere else”.

He continued: “This change to the benefit rules means that some couples could lose thousands of pounds depending on whether their claim falls a day before or a day after the May deadline.

“People who may be affected deserve to know about this change.”

The House of Commons order paper showed an innocuous document titled ‘Pensions Update’, although when it was finally released it announced the change for mixed age couples.

Royal London analysis found that the rate of Pension Credit for a couple in 2019/20 was £13,273 per year, while the rate of Universal Credit would only be £5,987.

Despite this, Aegon pensions director, Steven Cameron commented: “Claims that some mixed age couples could be £7,000 a year worse off suggest very substantial differences in pension credit and housing benefit for those below and above state pension age.

“Whenever there’s a change to benefit entitlements, there can be those who feel they have lost out because they fall on the wrong side of a cut-off date. But sometimes changes are needed to ensure benefits are going to those in greatest need.

“This change will affect far fewer individuals than the increase in female state pension age. There, inadequate communication meant many thousands of women were surprised to find that because of their date of birth, they are having to wait up to 5 years longer before they can claim their state pension.”

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