Guy Opperman cagey on impact of Pension Credit change

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has responded cagily to a question asking whether the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had made an assessment of the effect on mixed-age couple the changes to eligibility for Pension Credit will have.

The question, posed by Labour MP Jo Stevens, was submitted on 16 January and answered by Opperman yesterday (21 January).

In his response, Opperman said: “The difference between the levels of financial support in Universal Credit as compared to Pension Credit and pension-age housing benefit, will depend on individual circumstances.

“The differences reflect the role of Universal Credit in ensuring that work always pays, and of Pension Credit in providing long-term support to those who have permanently left the labour market because of retirement on top of the support also provided by the state pension.”

The changes to Pension Credit has caused concern amongst industry members and MPs regarding the impact it could have on older, mixed-age couples.

Recent research from Royal London found that the changes could result in the couples affected losing out on more than £7,000 per year in benefits.

Furthermore, Work and Pension Committee chair Frank Field sought clarity from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd on a number of issues arising from the government’s changes to Pension Credit in a letter published last week.

The announcement of the changes was also criticised by Independent MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, Stephen Lloyd, who said that the government “must not be allowed to bury bad news by surreptitiously releasing it when the bedlam caused by their own Brexit incompetence is at its height”.

Opperman concluded his response, saying: “The younger partner in a mixed-age couple receiving Universal Credit will have access to the tailored support provided by work coaches to help them find work or progress in work.

“No work-related requirements will be applied to the older partner.”

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