Protest held outside Hastings MP Amber Rudd’s office
Protestors held a demonstration outside Hastings and Rye MP, Amber Rudd’s office yesterday (Thursday, May 9).
Pensioners staged the event in protest over upcoming benefits changes.
The demonstration comes after a petition was delivered the Work and Pensions Secretary’s office in St Leonards on Friday (May 3) containing hundreds of signatures, protesting against the new benefits rules.
Age UK said the upcoming changes on May 15 will mean a pensioner whose partner has not reached State Pension age yet will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit.
The charity said mixed-age couples could be £7,000 a year worse off. Its petition contained almost 700 signatures.
Steve Hare, Age UK East Sussex chief officer, said: “We presented Amber Rudd with our Age Gap Tax petition, backed by 691 people, calling on her to change the Government’s decision about who can claim pension credit and other vital benefits.
“The Department for Work and Pensions, which Ms Rudd heads up, recently announced a policy change which could have a huge impact on anyone affected, depriving them of thousands of pounds in potential income and pushing many below the poverty line.
“The measure, slipped out in February when all eyes were on the Brexit votes in Parliament, removes the right to claim two vital pensioner benefits, Pension Credit and Housing Benefit, from future claimants whose partner hasn’t yet reached their own pension age.
“This could affect many so-called ‘mixed-age couples’ in Hastings and Rye, which has a higher than average older population, many of whom are not flush with funds and really could do with all the financial help they can get.
“The older people who are set to lose out are trying to manage on a very low income and we are upset and disappointed the Government made this decision, which there is still time for them to reverse. We urge Ms Rudd to think again.”
A DWP spokesman said: “This change was voted on by Parliament in 2012, and we have always said it would be implemented once Universal Credit rollout was completed. It restores fairness by ensuring only people of pension age can access pension age benefits.
“We are writing to all mixed-aged couples currently receiving Pension Credits to inform them of the rule change, and we are working with stakeholders to communicate with people that may be affected in the future.
“People currently in receipt won’t be affected unless their circumstances change.”
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