UK Government changes to the eligibility criteria for claiming Pension Credit will take effect from 15th May 2019 and local MSP Gil Paterson wants to warn pensioners of the deadline in order that those who qualify now don’t lose out.
Pension Credit is an entitlement for people on the lowest levels of the State Pension to top up their pension but changes to the eligibility criteria for pensioner couples introduced by the UK Government in Westminster could mean that thousands of older couples living in Scotland could be worse off to the tune of £7,000 a year.
When the changes come into effect a pensioner who lives with a younger partner (who is not yet of pension age) will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit. These pensioners will also miss out on extra entitlements such as housing benefit, council tax reduction, cold weather payment and support for dental and eyecare costs. The initial £7000 reduction effectively doubles when you take into account the value of these other benefits pensioners can claim if they are in receipt of Pension Credit.
Mr Paterson commented saying:
“Pensioners need to act right now to safeguard their entitlement.
“If you are not sure if you qualify for Pension Credit then speak to your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or get in touch with Age Scotland on their free helpline. Don’t delay as the deadline of the 15th May is looming so you need to act now.
“I think it is despicable that the Westminster Government is treating our poorest pensioners in this fashion and the Conservative UK Government know it is, otherwise why would they sneak the announcement out on the day of their first meaningful Brexit vote?
“This is yet another glaring example of why Scotland needs control of all of our social security.”
The charity Age Scotland say they believe that changes will have a devastating impact on the lives of some of the poorest pensioners in Scotland and have advised those affected to call their helpline on 0800 12 44 222 before the 15th May deadline.
The helpline is free to call and is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm