Some of the poorest pensioners are set to get a payout worth a total of £70million, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced today. All Universal Credit claimants who no longer get the benefit when they reach state pension age will receive an average one-off payment of £350.
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This is an estimated 200,000 people, who will automatically qualify for a run-on.
The measure is expected to cost around £70million over the next five years, the DWP said.
Previously, people moving between the benefits could face a wait of several weeks, leaving them low on cash.
Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey said: “This top-up will ensure pensioners aren’t left in limbo when they’re waiting to get their state pension, with an average boost of £350.
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Universal Credit claimants will get £250 on average amid reaching state pension age (Image: GETTY)
“Since 2010 around 100,000 pensioners have moved out of poverty, thanks to policies such as the triple lock.”
Today, Ministers announced that the DWP will amend regulations to “smooth the transition from Universal Credit to pensioner benefits and remove any potential gap in support”.
Ministers said: “All those who reach state pension age while claiming Universal Credit will receive a run-on, meaning that they can receive a payment for the entire Assessment Period in which they reach state pension age.
“Entitlement to pensioner benefits and state pension is unaffected and continues as usual.
“This ensures there is no gap in benefit provision as people approach state pension age. This will benefit approximately 200,000 pensioners who will benefit by an average of £350 from this run-on at a cost of around £70 million over the next five years.
“This process is already in operation on an extra statutory basis, ensuring that nobody loses out upon reaching state pension age, and legislation will be amended accordingly later this year.”
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Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “It’s really good news that the Government is making this change so people will no longer be left in a position where they can wait several weeks without money when moving from Universal Credit to state pension.”
David Samson, Welfare Benefits Specialist at Turn2us, commented: “We welcome any government measure that helps people on low incomes, especially those who are most vulnerable.
“With this top-up payment, the DWP have just demonstrated the willingness and ability to address the sudden financial shortfall people reaching pension age would experience, during the period they are moved between benefits.
“As well as for pensioners, Turn2us hopes the department extends this practice of financial relief to also ensure that the millions of people – with little to no income – aren’t left dangling over the five week wait for their first Universal Credit payment.
“The current Universal Credit advances, all too readily offered to claimants to bridge that five week wait, are ill-considered and lumber many people already experiencing financial hardship with unmanageable debt.”
Universal Credit is being rolled out across the UK, replacing six legacy benefits (Image: EXPRESS)
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Universal Credit is replacing six types of benefits, which are known as legacy benefits.
Child Tax CreditHousing BenefitIncome SupportIncome-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)Working Tax Credit
Currently, Universal Credit is open to new claimants, and exisiting benefits claimants who have had a change in circumstances.
A pilot scheme is currently underway in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, for the process of moving legacy benefits claimants who have not had a change in circumstances onto Universal Credit.
The Gov.uk website states that if a person currently gets any of the aforementioned legacy benefits, they do not need to do anything, unless:
They have a change of circumstances you need to reportThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts them about moving to Universal Credit.
In the past, the state pension age was 60 for women and 65 for men, however it is currently rising.
The age reached 65 for both men and women in November 2018, and it is currently increasing further – reaching 66 in October 2020 ahead of further rises to 67 and then 68 under current government plans.
It’s possible to check one’s state pension age online, using the ‘Check your State Pension age’ tool on the government website.
In addiiton to finding out a person’s state pension age, this service also allows a person to check their Pension Credit qualifying age, and when they’ll be eligible for free bus travel.