ISLANDS MSP CONDEMNS UK PENSION CHANGES
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan is calling on all pensioners living on a low income with a partner of working age to urgently check their eligibility for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit and put in a claim before the Government changes the rules on 15th May.
The UK Government’s change, sneaked out during the first ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit in January, will see the right to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit – important tools in the fight against pensioner poverty – withdrawn from future claimants who happen to have a partner who hasn’t yet reached their own pensionable age.
This move will have severe financial consequences for all those affected. Age Scotland and Alasdair Allan MSP are warning that this could have a devastating impact on some of the Western Isles’ poorest older residents, and are urging anyone who may be entitled to claim benefits to call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for a free benefit and entitlements check before 15th May.
Alasdair Allan MSP and the Lewis & Harris branch of the SNP lodged a successful motion at the party’s annual conference on Saturday which saw SNP delegates slam the UK Government for introducing these changes and back calls for their reversal.
Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“The Tory government should ashamed of themselves. These unnecessary changes will punish Scottish pensioners simply for having a working age partner.
“These changes were sneaked in through the back door as the UK government Ministers shamelessly tried to bury the announcement in the middle of their Brexit chaos. I was pleased to see SNP members sending a clear message to Westminster over the weekend that these changes must be reversed immediately.
“It is vitally important that pensioners who find themselves in this situation make use of Age Scotland’s free benefit and entitlements check before the changes take place on 15th May.”
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:
“These changes will have a devastating impact on the lives of some of the poorest pensioners in Scotland. Around one in six pensioners living in Scotland are in poverty and this retrograde move will do nothing to improve this.
“Beyond the Pension Credit support, these mixed age couples could also miss out on a range of ‘passported benefits’ such as housing benefit, council tax reduction, cold weather payments, support for dental and eyecare costs, perhaps even the warm home discount. All in, this could mean that the loss of financial support for those on the lowest income could be well over £7000 a year. That is wholly unacceptable and the UK Government must change course.
“It is vital that older people ensure that they claim everything they are entitled to. The Age Scotland Helpline offers free benefit and entitlement checks and can support older people with pension credit claims. Call 0800 12 44 222 before the 15th May for information and advice about these changes.”