Fife MSP airs concerns over hidden changes to pensions

Jenny Gilruth MSP
Jenny Gilruth MSP

Jenny Gilruth MSP for Mid-Fife and Glenrothes has slammed the UK government for ‘sneaking out’ changes to state pensions.

The MSP alleges that these changes could affect older couples in Fife to the tune of £7,000 per year.

Changes to benefits for mixed-age couples – which will be introduced from May 15, 2019 – were quietly released by UK Government ministers on the eve of Theresa May’s humiliating Brexit deal defeat.

Currently, couples can claim Pension Credit – an income related benefit meant to top up the state pension as long as one partner is of pension age. Universal Credit will reverse this – meaning a mixed-age couple will be defined by the working-age person, not the pensioner.

Experts have claimed that the changes could leave some pensioners almost £7,000 worse off per year, and Age UK warned that it could leave “some of the poorest pensioners paying a hefty price for having a younger partner.”

Commenting, Fife MSP Jenny Gilruth said: “It’s concerning that the Westminster government tried to quietly bury the news that pensioners with younger partners are set to lose out on hundreds of pounds each month.

“People on low incomes and receiving pension credit should not be forced to pay the price for the Tories’ welfare cuts and chaotic Universal Credit.

“Amid the chaos and distraction of Brexit, those who may be affected by this change in Fife deserve to know about it, and have been let down by UK government attempts to ‘sneak out’ the news at 7.20pm on the night of the Brexit vote – when attentions were directed elsewhere.

“Serious concerns over the UK government’s welfare policies have already been raised by my party colleagues at Westminster and, at Holyrood, the Scottish Government will continue to tackle poverty and create a social security system based on equality, fairness and dignity. I will be writing to the DWP to ask for a reverse to this appalling cut which will hit those on the lowest incomes.”

Age UK has a website showing benefit entitlement at: www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements.