Department for Work and Pensions postpones new nasty for poverty stricken pensioners until 2019

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Guy Opperman, pensions minster and MP for Hexham pic credit: guy opperman website

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The Department of Work and Pensions has put back harsh plans to change the rules for new claimants for pension credit from next June to sometime next year.

The decision not to implement savings that could lead to  tens of thousands of elderly people having to live on half the money paid out by pensioner credit is not motivated by a change of heart on a heartless measure.

It is because of incompetence and failure by the ministry itself to roll out another major benefit called universal credit – which replaces a whole series of benefits – on time. This was supposed to be nationwide by June this year. But the civil servants who planned it failed in their job – despite collecting bonuses worth £20,000 on top of six figure salaries for introducing the new benefit. You can read all about it in my blog last year here.

So now instead the benefit will not be rolled out across the country until the end of December 2018. The proposed timetable is here– and you can see which local area changes when.

Of course the department has not announced the delay to the new pension credit cuts until I contacted them to check the date. Rather like they forgot tell 3.9 million  women pensioners about the rise in the pension age until some 14 years later.

A spokesman told me:

“The timetable for the introduction of any policy changes will be determined by the roll out of universal credit – this change will not now be implemented this year.”

The measure as I reported earlier is particularly harsh if there is a big age difference between pensioner couples – with one say years younger than the other.

Previously the law said when the oldest person in a relationship reached pension age  they qualified for pension credit. Now it is being changed to the youngest person in the relationship reaching pension age. This means if there were a 10 year difference – the oldest person could get no pension credit payment until they were 76 – ten years after the raised retirement age. On person has told me of a 17 year difference – meaning one of them would wait until they were 83.

What is as shocking is the department’s disclosure to me on how the new system is planning to work. When it comes in they are proposing both people in a couple apply for universal credit when there is an age difference between the two- and only one is over 65. The change is devastating.

If you are on pension credit these are the rates (per week) for 2017 – 18 and the proposed rate for 2018-19

PENSION CREDIT
Standard minimum guarantee
single £159.35  rising to £163.00
couple £243.25   rising to £248.80
Additional amount for severe disability
single £62.45  rising to£64.30
couple (one qualifies) £62.45 rising to £64.30
couple (both qualify) £124.90 rising to  £28.60

But when you switch to Universal Credit these are the rates for 2018-19 per month:

Single claimant 25 and over £317.82
Joint claimants, either/both 25 and over £498.89

This means a couple instead of receiving £995.20 for 4 weeks would see their income halved to £498.89 a month until both of them were over, by then, 66.

Furthermore the younger person in the marriage will be subject to benefit sanctions if they fail to continually seek work. This would cut their benefit compared to pension credit by two thirds to just £313.82 a month.

Notice there are no new rates for universal credit for 2018-19 as the benefit is frozen unlike pensioner credit which rises in line with pensions. This in theory could mean the people deprived of pension credit could be forced to live on a frozen benefit for years and see their living standards fall every year.

The DWP is being generous enough to say they would not force a person over 65 to seek work and sanction them if they don’t succeed. Presumably even Mr Opperman, the pensions minister, would not want to be seen trying to force a 77 year old into a job while he or she waits for pension credit.

Frankly  this is an appalling situation and I hope Backto60 people take this up as well as demanding their pension and try and put pressure on MPs to tell the government not to go ahead next year. This is a real and sustained attack on the poorest pensioners in the country and ministers should be ashamed of thinking of implementing it.

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “Department for Work and Pensions postpones new nasty for poverty stricken pensioners until 2019

  1. This new system seens to be a way of stealing monies from those whom have ‘paid in’ for years…I am curently 62 and still tied to JSA rules of job searching…which anyone with half a brain, who works in HR, will say theres little chance of taking on staff over 60! This government have no idea of how this makes us oldies feel at all….its a total disgrace..and at least a joke!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Department for Work and Pensions postpones new nasty for poverty stricken pensioners until 2019 | Govt Newspeak

  3. My husband was 20 years older than I. He died just before Christmas aged 79. I cared for him for 12 years as his health declined with diabetes, bowel cancer, kidney failure and dementia. Under these changes we still would not have qualified by the time he died, everything would have been so much more difficult, and really It was pretty awful as things were. This change is absolutely diabolical and I am very worried for couples who find themselves in this situation in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They have also stopped helping with mortgage interest help? I lose my pension credits this week as it was included in how much you have coming in, it was only £30 a month but kept me on pension credits which in turn gave me help with council tax. Also free dentist and glasses, a career supplement as my husband is disabled, and the warm homes allowance of £130 towards heating in the winter, I’ve worked out we will be almost £200 month down now, plus now this news, is another blow as he’s only 61 and I’m 70? God knows what we will do now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a miserable situation you are in with this cruel policy. The only glimmer of hope is that the DWP assured me that people already receiving pension credit will NOT be transferred to the new system when it is launched – so you will keep it. But the planned introduction needs to be stopped in its tracks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Revealed: The £200,000 food bank warehouse in Amber Rudd’s Hastings constituency caused by the Universal Credit debacle | David Hencke

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