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BLOG: Mixed aged couples-pension or Universal Credit?

Bill Irvine
Written by Bill Irvine

Universal Credit and Local Housing Authority expert Bill Irvine blogs about pension and Universal Credit.

With Parliamentarians and the media, fully focused on the Commons Brexit vote, Guy Opperman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion, decided it was the ideal time to make a written statement on the Government’s future plans in relation to the way mixed age couples will be treated, in terms of which benefit they claim – Pension or Universal Credit?   

The statement explains – “Pension Credit is designed to provide long-term support for pensioner households who are no longer economically active. It is not designed to support working age claimants. 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.”

What this means is – from 15th May 2019, where mixed aged couples make a NEW claim, and one is under pensionable age, they will almost certainly be required to claim Universal Credit, rather than Pension Credit. At a very basic level, this would mean a drop of £580 per month but could be even more, when other elements apply. In addition, the younger member of the couple would be subject to “conditionality” rules i.e. be expected to demonstrate they’re actively seeking employment or more hours, higher earnings, where they’re already working. 

DWP has produced a Pension Credit Mixed Age Couples factsheet explaining the significance of this change. 

Couples with one partner under State Pension age who are already in receipt of Pension Credit or pension-age Housing Benefit, at the point of change, will be unaffected while they remain entitled to either benefit. A break in either claim however could force a new claim under the new, less generous, regime.

This is definitely a change which should be highlighted to all your front line staff, and those tenants potentially affected, as the implications are very significant.

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About the author

Bill Irvine

Bill Irvine

Bill has quickly become known as a very effective Welfare Rights Advocate. He has been involved in most of the major social security changes since the early 80’s when Housing Benefit was first introduced. As well as offering advice and assistance to landlords, primarily in the RSL/PRS sectors, he also provides representation when disputes can’t be resolved through negotiation and where they have to be progressed through the formal tribunal process, initially to First Tier and, if necessary, through to Upper Tier level where some of his cases have proved to be of national importance to disadvantaged groups.

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