Westminster accused of 'sneakily' introducing Universal Credit change

The UK government is being accused of 'being sneaky' with a Universal Credit announcement.

Ministers announced changes to the way the benefit is claimed meaning elderly couple could have to start claiming it instead of pension credits.

Currently, couples are able to claim the extra payment if only one half of the pair are over the retirement age of 65 - a payment of £255.25 per week.

Under government changes the under-age half will have to claim Universal Credit instead and will lose out on £115 every week.

The changes have been announced during the Brexit chaos - something one charity is describing as 'sneaky'.

Commenting on the new policy, Age Scotland's Chief Executive, Brian Sloan said:
 
"Such an outrageous new policy will do nothing but penalise older couples of mixed age, making them poorer for living together. 

"This substantial cut to many older couples' finances was sneakily announced as Brexit and no confidence votes dominated the House of Commons as a way of burying bad news. 

"It will have a devastating impact on the health of Scotland's poorest pensioners as they struggle to pay bills and heat their homes.
 
"Right now, we know that four in ten pensioner couples have difficulty paying their fuel bill, with those in rural areas most affected. 

"Pension credit can help older people out of fuel poverty. Without this income boost even more older people throughout the country could find themselves in poverty, which is an wholly unacceptable.
 
"The UK Government must have thought we would not notice. But we have and they must rethink this absurd policy.

"I would urge older people affected by this to call the Age Scotland’s free and confidential phone helpline on 0800 12 44 222. We can help with quick benefits, entitlements and  state pension age checks."

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