Sunday, 30 June 2013

Treasury Spending Review Cash-Grab Targetting 100,000 Pensioners in Scotland

A move to constant income assessments for those receiving Pension Credit announced in this week’s spending review has been described as a ‘blatant cash-grab’ targeting around 100,000 older people in Scotland.

Under the current system, many older people receiving Pension Credit are awarded a fixed amount for five year periods with reassessments occurring only if there has been a major change in circumstances. However, changes to Pension Credit announced by the Westminster Government this week will see older people forced to complete paperwork reporting their income on a constant basis in order to receive the payment.

Five year assessment periods had been introduced to reduce the complexity and intrusion in the means-tested welfare system for pensioners and encourage those who are eligible to apply for the payments they are entitled to. By moving to continuous assessments, the likelihood is that fewer pensioners will take up the welfare payments which they are eligible for.

This move away from five year assessments was described by Craig Berry of the TUC as “a bizarre decision (explicable only in the sense that it saves the Exchequer some cash)". The Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe) estimate that around 100,000 older people in Scotland may be affected by the move which will impact on one million pensioners across the UK.

Commenting, SNP MSP Kevin Stewart who sits on the Welfare Reform Committee said:

“This is a blatant cash-grab by the Westminster Treasury who want to save money by simply making it harder for older people to claim the support to which they are fully entitled.

“The move will remove the certainty about how much money they have coming in that older people rely on. It will increase the stress and hassle that older people face by requiring constant income assessments to access Pension Credit.

“It is utterly cynical and entirely symptomatic of a Westminster system that cares nothing for the people it is supposed to represent.

“These are the kind of actions that demonstrate beyond any doubt why Scotland needs the opportunity to set our own course when it comes to the welfare state.

“The chance to build a fairer society that does not treat our older people in this shocking way is one of the major gains that a Yes vote in next year’s referendum offers us."

Further details of the planned move can be viewed at http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06677
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