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Universal Credit and State Pension Payments

Volume 673: debated on Monday 9 March 2020

3. What steps she is taking to reduce the length of time between a claimant’s last universal credit payment and first state pension payment. (901383)

The Government recently announced that anyone reaching state pension age while claiming universal credit can receive a run-on until the end of the assessment period in which they reach state pension age. This removes any potential gap in provision, with such pensioners receiving, on average, an additional £350.

The announcement in the written statement on Thursday was extremely welcome and a great victory for hundreds of thousands of pensioners throughout the country. I thank all Members from all parties who signed early-day motion 129, which highlighted the issue. As it was clearly a bad policy in the first place, what redress will the Government offer to those pensioners who have already suffered loss?

First, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for all his work in this policy area. As he rightly pointed out, the change does remove any potential gap in provision, with people reaching state pension age and leaving universal credit receiving an additional £350 on average. I stress that the process is already in operation on an extra-statutory basis, ensuring that nobody loses out on reaching state pension age. Legislation will be amended accordingly later this year.

Will the Minister outline to the House what steps his Department is taking to support those citizens who have fallen into problem debt?

Certainly—the breathing space policy is a prime example. If my hon. Friend would like to meet me or, indeed, the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), who is the Minister for Pensions, we would be happy to do so to set out in more detail the action that the Government are taking.