Commissioner warns welfare changes could leave elderly in Wales £600 a month worse off
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has called on the Westminster Government to halt imminent changes to Pension Credit and Housing Benefit Eligibility due to concerns about the impact they will have upon older people.
The Commissioner is concerned that under the proposed new system ‘mixed age’ couples, where one partner is below state pension age, could be nearly £600 a month worse off, with couples having to claim Universal Credit until both partners reach State Pension Age.
She is particularly concerned about the significant impact the changes could have on the incomes of women already affected by the accelerated equalisation of State Pension Age (the WASPI women) and those who have caring responsibilities.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE (pictured), said: “Since these changes were proposed, the number of older people living in poverty in Wales has increased to its highest level since 2005, with 1 in 5 older people now estimated to be living in poverty.
“The proposed changes will have a damaging effect on many older people who are already struggling to make ends meet, which is why I am calling on the Westminster Government to reverse its decision to implement changes to eligibility for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit.”
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd MP, the Commissioner has said that if the changes are taken forward then transitional arrangements must be put in place to mitigate the impact of the changes, protect those affected and ensure they have sufficient time to adjust.
Alongside this, the Commissioner has also called on the Westminster Government to deliver a campaign to raise awareness about Pension Credit, which is currently only claimed by 60% of those who are eligible.
The Commissioner added: “It is vital that older people who are struggling financially claim all of the financial support to which they are entitled. It is estimated, however, that older people in Wales are missing out on around £170 million every year in unclaimed Pension Credit, money that could make a positive difference to their financial situations, as well as their health and well-being.
“It is therefore imperative that more is done to ensure that older people understand what they may be entitled to and can access the support they need to claim these entitlements.”