Poorer pensioner couples will lose more than £7,000 a year, under a cut “sneaked out” while MPs are preparing for the showdown Brexit vote. Ministers have been accused of attempting to bury the impact of the change to pension credit, which tops up the incomes of hard-up elderly people.
It means couples where only one partner is over the state pension age, which is now 65 or for both men and women depending on when they were born, will no longer receive the extra benefit. It will take effect from 15 May, when the partner below the pension age is required to make a claim for universal credit, which merges six working-age benefits into a single payment.
“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,” warned Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister. "People who may be affected deserve to know about this change and not have it sneaked out on a day when ministers were no doubt hoping that everyone’s attention was directed somewhere else.” He said a couple expecting to receive £13,273 in the 2019-20 financial year from pension credit would see that figure fall to just £5,986.68 under universal credit.