Pensioner couples set to be £7,000 a year worse off under sneaky cut to benefits

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is stopping ‘mixed age’ couples – someone over 65 living with someone under 65 – from receiving the full pension credit from May 15.

The move comes a week after Amber Rudd found £250 million to give to Universal Credit families with three kids or more.

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb, policy chief at Royal London, said the move would force under 65s back into work or to do more hours.

He stormed: “People who may be affected deserve to know about this change and not have it sneaked out on a day when ministers were no doubt hoping that everyone’s attention was directed somewhere else.”

It threatens to further infuriate older voters in Tory heartlands – despite OAPs seeing their incomes grow faster than any other age group since the credit crisis thanks to the ‘lock’ on their state pension.

The proposed change was first mooted in the Welfare Act of 2012.

But the Government released an announcement at 7.22pm on Monday night – as the fourth day of Brexit debate was underway.

Previously mixed age couples could expect up to £13,273 a year in pension credit.

But From May 15 if one of them has reached pension credit age and is claiming housing benefit then they will receive Universal Credit, which grants a maximum of £5,986 a year for a couple – a difference of £7,286.

Royal London said: “Under the proposed rules, couples where one partner is over pension age and is not expected to seek work will get the same rate as a couple where both partners are under pension age and both are expected to seek work.”

Government insiders said it wasn’t right that an under 65 could be in a couple with full pension credit.

A DWP source insisted it was Mr Webb – who as Lib Dem Pensions Minister in Coalition – who helped design the change in the first place.

He said: “As the Pensions Minister who designed and implemented the policy, it’s a surprise that Sir Steve is now so against his own changes that he defended so passionately.”

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