The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has appeared to use Brexit as cover to ‘sneak’ out details of a benefit cut. And for the people affected, the potential £7,000 loss is a big deal.
The DWP: a good day to bury bad news
As Alex Tiffin wrote on the Universal Credit Sufferer website, DWP parliamentary under-secretary Guy Opperman put out a written statement on Monday 14 January. It was to do with Pension Credits. Currently, the DWP tops up people’s pensions if they’re on a low income. But the Tory-led coalition government changed this in principle in 2012. It was part of the Welfare Reform Act. Now, if one member of a couple is below state pension age, then the older person will no longer be entitled to Pension Credits. This is unless one of them claims Housing Benefit.
The announcement the DWP buried with Brexit gives the date the change will finally come into force. As Opperman noted:
I set out to Parliament last year that this change would be implemented once Universal Credit was available nationally for new claims. Today I can confirm that this change will be introduced from 15th May 2019.
Social media says…
Tiffin said he thought the DWP ‘hoped nobody would notice’:
💥💥DWP sneaks in £7,300 a year cut to Pension Credit couples with a working age member.
Sneaking out bad news the night before the Brexit Vote in the hope nobody noticed…
More #UniversalCredit woes in 2019.
Please READ & SHARE https://t.co/O9ROHWZaaz
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) January 15, 2019
People on Twitter were not happy. Bob Miller said it would affect him:
That's the first #WTF award today – I'm 63 and would get my pension when I'm 66 (the one I've paid NI contributions since I was 18) – my missus is 52 and has spent the last 20 years looking after our kids (with mental health problems) 😱#NeverTrustATory pic.twitter.com/w2uiTTDJSy
— Bob Miller (@hctbn) January 15, 2019
Lou made a good point:
And why they class pensions as a benefit, is beyond me!
— Lou #DPFC 🔴🇬🇧 (@louRmedia69) January 15, 2019
“The Tories have no soul”
Tiffin told The Canary:
The DWP has already shown it can’t cope with an increased workload and now it wants to add pensioners to the mix. It’s ridiculous. My parents will be directly affected by this move. My severely disabled mother will now face a Work Capability Assessment. Add to the fact she’s a WASPI woman, and it’s a double blow.
Over £7,000 per year less is a major income drop for anyone. The Tories have no soul. Nobody is safe anymore.
A new group of claimants?
As Age UK said of the change:
The older partner could be financially better off living alone.
In 2016, up to 3.4 million claimants were enitled to the benefit. So the impact of this could be wide-reaching – as the younger person in a couple could be forced to find work.
Also, as Tiffin noted, it puts women who have seen their retirement age pushed back by the government, so-called WASPI women, in an even worse position.
These women should have been able to retire by now. But due to government changes, they don’t get their pensions yet. So with the loss of Pension Credits, these women may have to claim Universal Credit. This could mean they will possibly be subjected to the sanctions regime. In other words, the DWP is potentially creating a whole new group of claimants that it can force to look for work.
But maybe this was the government’s plan all along. Because it looks like another easy way for it to save money. Also, it may massage the employment figures. No wonder then that it tried to sneak out the announcement under the cover of Brexit.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?