Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has hit out at the UK Tory government for cuts to pension credit eligibility which could see older people in Scotland out of pocket by up to £7,000 per year.

From today (15th May), pensioners with a partner of working age won’t be able to make a new claim for financial help through Pension Credit and Housing Benefit – instead being forced to claim Universal Credit which could mean thousands of older couples being worse off to the tune of £140.40 per week.

Charity Age Scotland has warned that the UK government’s changes to benefit entitlement will have a devastating impact on some of the poorest older residents in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland.

The cut comes as pensioner poverty rises – now at its worse since 2008 – and after 300,000 more pensioners were driven into poverty between 2014 and 2017, the first sustained increase in pensioner poverty for 20 years.

The SNP has backed calls by Age Scotland for the UK government’s changes to pension credit to be reversed and brought back to the House of Commons for MPs to look at again.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“The Tories should be ashamed of the way they’re treating older people – unfairly punishing the poorest pensioners in West Dunbartonshire and across the country simply for having a younger partner.

“Pension credit offers vital financial support to older people in need, but thousands people of pension age now face missing out on up to £7,000 per year due to these cuts introduced by the UK government.

“It beggars belief that the Tories have chosen to implement these cuts at a time when pensioner poverty is on the rise – now at its highest level for over ten years.

“Not content with presiding over the lowest state pension in the developed world, the UK government is also giving the green light to scrapping free TV licences for the over-75s and pressing ahead with unfair changes to the state pension age for 1950s-born WASPI women.

“It’s clearer than ever that the Tory UK government cannot be trusted to look after Scotland’s pensioners.”

Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:

“These changes will have a devastating impact on the lives of some of the poorest pensioners in Scotland. Around one in six pensioners living in Scotland are in poverty and this retrograde move will do nothing to improve this.

“It is vital that older people ensure that they claim everything they are entitled to. The Age Scotland Helpline 0800 12 44 222 offers free benefit and entitlement checks and can support older people with pension credit claims.”