20 August 2008
Benefit changes penalise vulnerable pensioners
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West today, warned that thousands of Pensioners stand to miss out on hundreds of pounds worth of backdated benefits as a result of rule changes due to come into force later this year.
From October 6, people applying for pension credit, housing benefit or council tax benefit will only be able to have their claims backdated for three months, rather than a year as is currently the case.
It is thought that around 100,000 of the UK’s poorest pensioners could be affected by the changes, with people potentially losing out on up to GBP2,000.
The move is part of a shake up by the Government which aims to boost the number of people claiming means-tested benefits.
Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson, John Barrett said:
“With these changes, the Government is giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
“I cannot see any justification for the change in the backdating rules other than to save money for the Exchequer. The simple reality is that some of the most vulnerable pensioners will be missing out on hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds as a result.
“The Government should be focusing on increasing the benefits take-up rate rather than penalising pensioners who were either unaware of the help that is available, or unsure of how to apply.”