7 November 2005
Over 10,000 women across Edinburgh to lose out on £200 council tax repayments
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, along with other Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs, has launched a major new campaign to secure a £200 Christmas bonus for the 173,000 women aged between 60 and 64 in Scotland.
The Government is set to give the money to all other pensioners as a refund on their Council Tax, alongside their Winter Fuel Payment. However, the Chancellor’s pre-election generosity was limited to those over 65-years-old. This will result in 10,923 women across Edinburgh missing out on the repayment.
In a statement, John Barrett said:
“With one of the coldest winters on record anticipated, the Chancellor has an opportunity to prove that his £200 refund was more than just a cynical pre-election gimmick.
“The truth is that Gordon Brown’s refund is being withheld from one in seven Scots of pensionable age. Across Edinburgh this means that over 10,000 women will be missing out on repayments that they should be entitled to. This is simply not good enough.
“It is completely unacceptable that women are being told on one hand that they can claim their state pension at 60, but on the other that the Government will take no account of the low, fixed income that decision leaves them with.
“This is yet another example of a pre-election sweetener that is beginning to turn sour. With the winter approaching warm words from the Chancellor will not be enough. It is time for the Government to deliver on this pre-election pledge and extend this repayment to all women of pensionable age.”
The £200 Council Tax refund, announced by Gordon Brown in the run up to the General Election in May, is being restricted to those aged 65 and over. This means that women aged 60-64, despite having passed the state pension age will be unable to receive this extra help with their Council Tax bills.
Government Ministers have justified this exclusion on the grounds that 65 “is the age that the Government considers to be the appropriate age for retirement.” And yet the state pension age for women is currently 60.
The Chancellor announced the payment in his Budget speech on 16th March 2005:
“we will pay to every pensioner household - 65 and over - paying council tax, a refund not of £50 but a council tax refund of £200.”
To qualify for the £200, you must turn 65 before 25 September 2005. It will be paid along with this year’s Winter Fuel Payment (for households aged 60 and over) before Christmas. For more info, see:
Those in receipt of the Guarantee Credit (part of the Pension Credit) will also be excluded from the £200 because they will be eligible for council tax benefit.
If the age bar were lowered to 60, a further 6,150 people would also benefit.
During the passage of the Age Related Payments Bill which made provision for the payment, the Pensions Minister was asked what justification there was for leaving this group of pensioners out, but he failed to answer. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmstand/deleg3/
The statement that women aged 60-64 will be excluded from receiving the money because 65 “is the age that the Government considers to be the appropriate age for retirement” comes from a letter from DWP Minister, Baroness Hollis to David Laws MP (a copy of the letter can be faxed on request). The campaign will be launched at 11.30 tomorrow morning at Westminster.
|Number of Women between the ages of 60 and 64|
|Edinburgh East & Musselburgh||1916|
|Edinburgh North & Leith||1538|