Govt highlights guidance on changes to mixed-age couple pension rules

The government has highlighted the ways in which it has issued advice to people affected by the changes to pension rules for mixed-age couples, which come into force on 15 May 2019.

The changes will mean that both partners in a household would have to have reached state pension age to transition from working age benefits to pension age benefits, including claiming pension credit and pension age housing benefit.

In an answer to a written question from Lord Beecham, MP Baroness Buscombe said that the government had “written directly” to mixed-age couples who are already in receipt of pension credit for housing benefit “to ensure they know about the change and how they could be affected if their circumstances change on or after 15 May”.

She continued: “The Department [for Work and Pensions] (DWP) has also engaged with a number of relevant organisations, including Age UK, Citizen’s Advice and local authority representatives.

“A factsheet about the change has been provided, to help ensure that accurate information is available in the places where people are most likely to seek information.”

After the changes were announced in January, Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, accused the DWP of “sneaking out” the announcement “on a day when ministers were no doubt hoping that everyone’s attention was directed somewhere else”.

Royal London said that the changes could leave older mixed-age couples over £7,000 per year worse off, while the DWP estimated that the number of couples that will be affected could reach 40,000 by 2021/22.

In an attempt to make the transition smoother for mixed-age couples, Buscombe also highlighted that DWP staff in pension centres and jobcentres would be able to provide information and advice, as will staff in local authorities who administer housing benefit.

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