Mixed aged couples -The Case of the Disappearing Savings Pot

 

 

Pension Credit and Universal Credit for mixed aged couples

Regulations

The new rule for mixed aged couples where one hasn’t reach Pension age being implemented on 15th May of this year 2019 states that where one person is of state pension age and the other is still of working age the couple will not be allowed to claim Pension Credit and will instead be forced to claim Universal Credit.

The old rules stated that as soon as one person reached retirement age then their partner could be included on that Pension Credit claim. This means that the younger member of the couple is included within the Pension Credit claim because their partner is over the qualifying age.

This is question 3  of 8 I asked Steve Webb, then the Minister of State for Pensions on 20th October 2012  regarding the changes to this legislation. His answers to my questions and the implications of these changes to mixed-aged couples when it comes in effect on 15th May 2019

Question3: What Capital Limits will be used? (The amount of savings you can have and still claim benefits)

Steve Webb; “With regards to capital limits.  I can confirm that the capital threshold for UC will be set at £16,000. Single people or couples with joint capital in excess of this amount will not be entitled to Universal Credit.  Where capital between £6,000 and £16,000 is held, an assumed income of £1 weekly will be taken into account for every £250, or part thereof, between these limits.  For example, if a person/couple possesses capital of £7,400, an assumed weekly income of £6 will be deducted from Universal Credit.”

Implications of this change.

If there is 6months difference between this couples age and they have £20,000 of savings, they will not be able to claim Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Universal Credit until their hard earned savings are below £16,000. Welcome to the first six months and see your £4,000 of hard earned savings disappear, which it will if you are paying Rent of £650pm and Council Tax of £113pm 

I wonder how long it takes to save £4000 only to see it disappear in the blink of an eye!

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/news/universal-credit-dwp-benefits-pensioners-younger-partners-mixed-age-couples/

Just when you though you were safe, sit back and watch another £28pw disappear from your savings pot.

 Savings are treated differently, There is no upper limit for savings for someone claiming PC, they can have £10,000 of savings before they start to lose their PC. This charge is called Tariff Income and for PC recipients for every additional £500 they have over the £10,000 their pension credit is reduced by £1 per week.

For working aged recipients the upper limit for savings is £6000 and the tariff income (money deducted for savings) is £1 for every £250

A pensioner with £15,850 of savings would, under Pension Credit be seen as having £6000 of savings subject to a tariff income of £1 for every £500 which would reduce their benefit by £12 per week. .

They would be subject to a Tariff Income (charge) of £1 for every £250 over £6000, meaning that they would lose up to  £40per week as compared to PC where they would only see a deduction of £12 per week.

This policy really puts a new slant on saving for your old age, or rather saving for the DWP to take it away!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Words can always break me.

Words can always break me

Until two years ago I was a very high functioning Heroin addict and had been self-medicating with heroin since the age of twenty-seven. I had been battling anxiety, depression, anorexia, and addiction from the age of seventeen, all related to physical, psychological and sexual abuse in childhood.

Those of us that function at this level are invisible because from the outside we look like you. Look around you; we could anyone that you see, a friend that you have known for years or a work colleague that you admire and work alongside or the person you chat to at the school gates.

Addiction was not a life style choice; it was a psychological and physical need, like taking a deep breath and exhaling a very long slow deep long sigh of relief, where there is time and space while the drug lasted. The need for these spaces sometimes have lasted for years, other times days, weeks or months and outwardly no-one knew anything was wrong.

After three years of counseling and fast approaching my sixty-seventh birthday, I have been clear of Heroin use for two years.

When I have told people about my past, so far I have come across three different reactions:

One is “Oh wow, that’s amazing. I would never have known, Look at you. Look at what you’ve achieved with your life.

Others unconsciously glance down at my arms to see if I have tract marks, which I don’t. My arms look exactly the same as yours as I have never injected heroin.

And others unconsciously clutch their bags closer to them for a split second, just in case I’m going to snatch it away from them and run off with it.

Words can define how people look and treat us. They create pictures, which are able to shape our beliefs, prejudices and actions.

What picture do you see in your mind’s eye when you hear the words “Dirty Junkie.”

I can guarantee you it won’t be an image of a high functioning addict like me, as I am invisible to you but a stereotype that dehumanises and devalues us, that is very pale looking, often having dark circles around their eyes; they are skinny and always a little bit sweaty. Their clothes look worn-out and unkempt, as if they have not been changed in days.

By judging and reacting to us like this on top of the mountain of pain, fear, isolation and shame we feel already, maybe for things we have done to survive, you give us more shame.  Shame founded on a Puritan belief, where belonging and connectivity comes from hard work and perseverance,

You see us as not deserving, a drain on society, not worthy to be part of your community which reduces your responsibility towards us, as you feel we bought this on ourselves. Your judgement excludes us, when what we need most of all is to feel that we belong and feel connected

This attitude is again reinforced by the media in films like “A street cat called Bob” and “Trainspotting” and perpetrated further by the newspaper in negative reporting.

The media makes a fortune out of it. Its big news, it sells papers, so woe betides a celebrity who falls to pieces due to addiction, as in the recent case of Amy Winehouse.  Images of a public meltdown sell papers. This public scrutiny brings additional pressure at a time where the world was crashing in on her, where she had no space.  Yet we followed and waited for her every move.

The deserving and undeserving is again perpetuated by Government policies of trying to force us into “treatment programs” that we are not ready for, with the threat of sanctions if we don’t or can’t comply.

“DRUG addicts and alcoholics who refuse to have treatment could be stripped of their sickness benefits in a new “tough love” approach to be unveiled by the Government” proclaimed The Express in 2012 It went on to say “From next year in pilot areas, drug addicts will be required to attend discussions about treatment and agree a rehabilitation plan to address their drug problem and other barriers to work that they face, or they risk losing their benefits”

Coercing people into therapy is dangerous as our consent is negated if it is given under duress. Punitive measures have no place in therapy. A safe environment is needed.  Trust needs to be established.  Asking questions about traumatic experiences can be extremely stressful or damaging for us as already traumatized individuals. Subsequent “re-traumatisation” could occur.

Then, when we enter counseling, where words and physical movements, just like music or smells can take us back to a particular event in our past flooding us with the memories and emotions of the trauma we have experienced and suppressed, we are faced with the expression,  “Do you feel dirty?”    A phrase so commonly and thoughtlessly used to describe people that take Heroin. This also perpetuates the stereotype image that’s been around for a long, long time.

These words are also said without thinking by many from the Psychology profession who use them without question. When you stop to think about them they imply that a person who has self medicated with an addictive drug, especially heroin, is dirty.  If you want to use a “d” word think about despair, desperation and dehumanisation.

Yet, after recovery, when we have finished counseling, ready to face the world on our own, we stigmatise ourselves by use the word “clean” to describe our remission. Every time we use the word “clean” to describe our state of health, we reinforce the stigma that once we were “dirty”

Once we stop associating with the word “dirty” we can see ourselves as in the “clear” We have recovered from the trauma of our childhood and are in remission.  We have forged new pathways in our brains that we now follow but just like any remission the old pathways are still there, so relapse is possible.

So finally, I would like you to picture a blank piece of paper. Take a pencil and write the word clean. Then take a rubber and rub away the downward stroke of the letter “n”, the downward stroke that is the stigma that society places upon us.

 

Many, many thanks to Dr Jay Watts for her support, kind words and comments below.

“Words shape how we feel about ourselves, our actions, our past and our future. Words frame how the Other will see us, a gaze that we then internalise and take up as our own.  Words can and do kill.  Expressions such as “dirty junkie” have a re-traumaticising effect, reinforcing every horrid, dismissive, hopeless thought that we have about ourselves.  The term sticks people into a storyline that can reinforce precisely the self-attacks that make heroin the only way out.  If we want to help people recover, we must transmit with every gesture that we never saw them as dirty in the first place, just in dire need of the help, support and validation which souls in pain deserve”

Dr. Jay Watts CPsychol AFBPsS                                                                                          Consultant Clinical Psychologist/Psychotherapist                                                                   Honorary Senior Research Fellow

www.jaywatts.co.uk

https://twitter.com/Shrink_at_Large

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Universal Credit and The Great Pension Robbery.

great train robbery

Universal Credit and mixed aged couples: Part 2 of 8

The new rule being implemented on 15th May of this year 2019 states that where one person is of state pension age and the other is still of working age the couple will not be allowed to claim Pension Credit and will instead be forced to claim Universal Credit, which is worth less.

The old rules stated that as soon as one person reached retirement age then their partner could be included on that Pension Credit claim. This means that the younger member of the couple is included within the Pension Credit claim because their partner is over the qualifying age.

State Pension and the Pension Credit “Top Up”

Pension Credit is a benefit that tops up the (Old) State Pension to per week of £129.20per week to £167.25 for a single person and £255.25 for a couple if they do not have any other income e.g private pensions etc that takes them above this level.                                   Please note £129.20 is a Full (Old) pension amount, many receive less.

Back in the beginning of 2012 it came to light that the Government was going to implement changes to the regulations for mixed-aged couples. Realizing what these devastating changes were going to mean to me personally I asked Steve Webb, then The Minister for Pensions, Eight questions. This is question Six, along with his answer and what it actually means for these couples.

Question 6:As the Government is not taking this measure for financial reasons, but to ensure that people under PC age are available for work, Is the Government considering a Pensioner Premium in Universal Credit, If not what measures are the government putting in place to ensure that the partner who has qualified for Pension Credit is no worse off under Universal Credit than Pension Credit?”

Question 6: Steve Webb: “It is important that all people of working age should be in work or seeking work before they look to the State to provide financial support. The current benefit system allows someone of working age to avoid looking for work on the basis that their partner is above Pension Credit qualifying age: we do not this is right or fair.”

Implications of not providing an additional element within Universal Credit where one partner is older

Benefit rates from April 2019/20

Pension Credit is a benefit that tops up the (Old) State Pension of £129.20per week to £167.25 for a single person and £255.25 for a couple if they do not have any other income e.g. private pensions etc that takes them above this level. Please note £129.20 is a Full (Old) pension amount, many receive less as pensions are built up over our working lives. The actual amount you’re entitled to is calculated by the number of NI qualifying years you’ve accumulated. So if you’ve got 20 years’ worth, you’ll get roughly two thirds of the full amount.

The Chart below shows the Proposed Benefit Rates for 2019/2020

New State Pension  –  after April2016 Single Rate £168.60pw £730.64pm
Old State Pension –before April2016 Single Rate £129.20pw £559.86pm
Pension Credit Standard Minimum guarantee Single Rate £167.25pw £726.05pm

 

  • From April 2016 a person with a full (New) State Pension will receive £168.60 per week. They will not get any Pension Credit Standard Minimum guarantee as their pension is over the limit for claiming.
  • Before April 2016 a person with a full (Old) State Pension receives £129.20pw plus a Pension Credit top up of  £38.05pw, bring their total income in line with that of the New State Pension

The Chart below shows the Proposed Rates for UC and PC couple’s rates 2019/2020

Universal Credit Standard Allowance Couples Rate £115.12pw £498.89pm
Pension Credit Standard Minimum guarantee Couples Rate £255.25pw £1106.08pm

 

So what happens to here is this from the 15th May 2019 when mixed aged couples can no longer claim PC until both are of Pension Age?

 

Example 1.

Under Pension Credit Rules, mixed aged couples.

Someone making a new claim after April 2016 and before May15th 2019 for themselves and their younger partner would receive a State Pension of £168.60pw, which is under the Pension Credit couples allowance of £255.25pw.  This means this couple would receive:

Their Full (New) State Pension of:                 £168.60pw      £730.60pm

A top up of Pension Credit:                               £86.65pw        £375.26pm

Giving a total payment of:                            £255.25.pw    £1106.08pm

This same couple applying after 15th May would receive only £168.60pw as they would now have to claim Universal Credit whose couple’s Standard Allowance is only £115.12pw.

Their loss is £375.26 per month or £86.65pw.

Example 2

Someone already in receipt of Pension Credit plus a full (Old) State Pension before 15May 2019 would receive:

Full (Old) State Pension of                             £129.20pw      £559.86pm

A top up of Pension Credit                             £126.05pw      £546.21pm

Giving them a total of                                     £255.25pw    £1106.08pm

If this mixed aged couple have a change of circumstances before Managed Migration it could trigger a Universal Credit claim:

  • They would lose all of their Pension Credit as UC Couple’s Standard Allowance is only £115.12pw.
  • Until managed migration starts there is no transitional protection for this couple

Their loss is £546.21per month or £126.05pw.

Example 3

The older person who has made a mixed aged couple’s claim but only has a partial State Pension of £115.12pw, which is the equivalent of UC Couple’s Standard Allowance.

Partial State Pension of                                   £115.12pw      £498.85pm

A top up of Pension Credit                             £150.25pw      £651.08pm

Giving them a total of                                     £255.25pw    £1106.08pm

Their loss is £651.08 month or £150.25pw.

AGE UK had this to say “The Government has said that in the current spending period the changes could save up to £100 million and over time this will increase as more mixed age couples claim Universal Credit rather than Pension Credit. Given that the Minister made clear that the aim was to improve work incentives rather than to cut spending we believe there is scope to use savings that will be made in order to provide an additional element within Universal Credit where one partner is older”

 

This article is Part 2 of 8.

You can read Part 1; Pensioners now effected by benefit sanctions. here

https://wordpress.com/post/mzolobajluk.wordpress.com/963

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pensioners now effected by benefit sanctions.

Image result for pensioners poor

Universal Credit (UC) and mixed aged pensioners Part 1 of 8

Pensioners now to be sanctioned.

The new rule being implemented on 15th May of this year 2019 states that where one person is of state pension age and the other is still of working age the couple will not be allowed to claim Pension Credit and will instead be forced to claim Universal Credit, which is worth less.

The old rules stated that as soon as one person reached retirement age then their partner could be included on that Pension Credit claim. This means that the younger member of the couple is included within the Pension Credit claim because their partner is over the qualifying age.

Back in the beginning of 2012 it came to light that the Government was going to implement changes to the regulations for mixed-aged couples. Realizing what these devastating changes were going to mean to me personally I asked Steve Webb, then The Minister for Pensions, Eight questions. This is question Four, along with his answer and what it actually means for these couples.

Question 4: “There are no work related sanctions for people above the qualifying age for Pension Credit in the current system.  If the younger partner is sanctioned, how is this going to affect the partner who has reached Pension Credit Age?”

Steve Webb: “Claimants who have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit will not be subject to work-related requirements.  Where one member of couple is subject to work-related requirements and receives a sanction then there UC award will be reduced by an amount equivalent to half of the UC standard Allowance.”

Implications of this change: Benefit rates from April 2019/20

In this policy area the Government said it would protect pensioners. However it appears they will not receive this protection if they have a younger partner because they will also be redefined as working age. This, I believe, is discriminatory as it treats pensioners with a current Full State Pension differently to those who have not been able to amass one.

The current Full State Pension if paid monthly at £559.86 or £129.20per week takes these couples above the couple’s Standard allowance in UC of £498.89 per month or £115.12per week. Therefore there is nothing to sanction, as sanctions can only be taken from their Standard Allowance.

Sanctions will apply only to those who are the poorest pensioners, whose State Pension is below the Universal Credit Standard Allowance. E.g. State Pension of £394.30per month or £91.00 per week is counted as income and deducted from the couples Standard Allowance, which gives them a Standard Allowance payable of £104.59per month or £24.13per week. Meaning that they can be sanctioned, as they are in receipt of partial payment of UC Standard Allowance.

Their Standard Allowance of £104.59per month or £24.11 can be sanctioned at 50% (see below) which reduces their income by £52.30per month, or £12.06 leaving them with a weekly total of £91. + £12.06 = £103.06 for both people to live on per week.

The person who has reached Pension Credit qualifying age, although having no claimant commitment of their own is directly affected by this ruling as they have not received a current Full State Pension of £129.20.

 “Step 3:  If necessary, adjust the amount produced by step 2 so that it does not exceed—

(a) the amount of the standard allowance applicable to the award; or

(b)in the case of a joint claim where a determination under section 26 or 27 of the Act applies only in relation to one claimant, half the amount of that standard allowance.”

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/regulation/110

“Sanctions reductions are applied after taking earnings and unearned income into account.

If there is insufficient Universal Credit remaining after this to take the full sanction amount, the sanction reduces the award to nil and is treated as having been made in full.

You will remain entitled to Universal Credit and will therefore maintain access to ‘passported’ benefits such as free prescriptions.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-you/universal-credit-and-you-a#sanctions     Ref 9.9 Reduction of sanctions from Universal Credit Updated 19th December 2018. 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Toy Boy Tax” for Pensioners: Universal Credit and mixed aged couples.

The Government has now turned it’s attention to the poorest pensioners. With the introduction of Universal Credit people in this group could face losses of £140 per week and over.

Please click the link below, then send an email to your MP and post onto pensioner sites so that they know what is going to happen after May15th this year 2019.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Universal Credit: What the public doesn’t know

20th August 2018

This is a report co-written by myself and Gail Ward and submitted to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s call for evidence regarding Universal Credit.

We have taken a broad brush approach and have not made recommendations.

Problems10a

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A guide to completing additional questions for Personal Independence Payment

Follow this link for a very comprehensive PIP guide  which focuses on examples that you could for the additional information boxes.

Often people with disabilities or long term illness get so use to living with pain and discomfort that they do not realise how much their disability affects they everyday life.

Please share as widely as possible

capture

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwHO3oy8n8DONjB6c09JSGQ3UEE/view?usp=sharing

 As this guide is a PDF, below are the writable additional information sheets from the Appendix for you to copy and paste:

Name………………………….

National Insurance Number………………………..

Q2 About your health condition and disabilities

Q2a

Q2b

 

 Q3 Preparing Food

Q3a

Q3b

Q3 Additional Information Preparing Food

 

 Q4 Eating and Drinking

Q4a

Q4b

Q4c

Q4 Additional Information Eating and Drinking

 

Q5 Managing Treatments

Q5a

Q5b

Q5 Additional Information Managing Treatments

 

Q6 Bathing and Washing

Q6a

Q6b

Q6 Additional Information Bathing and Washing

 

Q7 Managing Toilet Needs

Q7a

Q7b

Q7 Additional Information Managing Toilet Needs

 

 Q8 Dressing and Undressing

Q8a

Q8b

Q8 Additional Information Dressing and Undressing

 

 Q9 Communicating

Q9a

Q9b

Q9 Additional Information

 

Q10 Reading

Q10a

Q10b

Q10 Additional Information

 

 Q11 Mixing with other People

Q11a

Q11b

Q11 Additional Information

 

Q12 Making decisions about Money

Q12a

Q12b

Q12 Additional Information

 

Q13 Going Out

Q13a

Q13b

Q13 Additional Information Going Out

 

Q14 Moving around

Q14 a

Q14b

Q14c

Q14 Additional Information

 

 Q15 Further Additional Information

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized