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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mixed-age-couples-benefit-impacts-of-ending-access-to-pension-credit-and-pension-age-housing-benefit/mixed-age-couples-benefit-impacts-of-ending-access-to-pension-credit-and-pension-age-housing-benefit
The figures in this release relate to England, Scotland and Wales.
Policy background and introduction
1. A ‘mixed age’ couple is a couple where one member is above, and the other is below, the minimum qualifying age for Pension Credit1.
2. Pension Credit is intended to provide long-term support for pensioner households who are no longer economically active because of their age. When single people claiming benefits reach State Pension age, they move from working age benefits to pension age benefits.
3. Currently, mixed age couples requiring income-related benefit support can choose to claim a working age benefit (for new claims, now Universal Credit) or pension age benefits (Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit2.
4. Under provisions enacted in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, in future, couples will be able to access the pension age income-related benefits only when both partners have reached the qualifying age. The option of claiming these benefits will no longer be available to mixed age couples. These changes will take effect from 15 May 20193.
5. The change will not affect mixed age couples who are entitled to and claiming Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit immediately before the implementation date unless their entitlement to both those benefits subsequently ends (for example, due to a change of circumstances) and they then need to make a fresh claim. Mixed age couples in receipt of pension age Housing Benefit but not Pension Credit will still be able to make a new claim to Pension Credit after the implementation date if they need additional support with their daily living expenses, provided they are entitled to pension age Housing Benefit at the date of claim. Similarly, those in receipt of Pension Credit but not pension age Housing Benefit will be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit after the implementation date, if they require help with rent costs.
Purpose of publication
6. This publication provides analysis relating to mixed age couples estimated to be affected by the change in policy, to be implemented from 15 May 2019. In addition, it provides contextual analysis on current mixed age couple claimants of Pension Credit/pensioner Housing Benefit.
7. An estimate of the number of mixed age couples who would have been entitled to and claiming Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit without the policy change is set out below (please note these represent the estimated number in each specific year, and will comprise both estimated new claimants and claimants estimated to have started in a previous year. It is not appropriate to sum the figure to obtain a cumulative total).
Table 1: Estimated mixed age couples affected by policy change
Numbers rounded to nearest 5,000.
Source: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policy modelling based on Budget 2018 caseload and spending estimates.
Note: Numbers are currently being updated in line with Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast and are subject to change following Spring Statement 2019 on 13 March.
8. The policy change is forecast to result in Annual Managed Expenditure (AME) savings. These estimated savings in each year from the policy change are set out in the table below.
Table 2: Estimated overall AME savings
Rounded to nearest £5 million.
Source: DWP policy modelling based on Budget 2018 caseload and spending estimates.
Note: Numbers are currently being updated in line with OBR forecast and are subject to change following Spring Statement 2019 on 13 March.
9. To provide context in terms of the estimated AME savings in relation to the mixed age couples policy, the table below sets out total forecast AME spending directed at pensioners over the same time period.
Table 3: Expenditure directed at pensioners (taking account of mixed age couple policy)
|Nominal terms||2019/20 forecast||2020/21 forecast||2021/22 forecast||2022/23 forecast|
Source: Table 2a, Benefit expenditure and caseload tables, 2018
10. The change will not affect mixed age couples who are entitled to and claiming Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit immediately before the implementation date unless their entitlement to both those benefits subsequently ends. However, to provide further context on mixed age couples, the table below sets out the latest available data on the number of mixed age couples on Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit.
Table 4: Mixed age couples, November 2018
|Claiming Pension Credit only||34,000|
|Claiming Housing Benefit only||25,000|
|Claiming both Pension Credit and Housing Benefit||55,000|
|Total mixed age couples in receipt of Pension Credit/Housing Benefit||115,000|
Note: Rounded to nearest 1,000
Source: DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS)
11. Additional characteristic information is available from analysis of the WPLS for these mixed age couples and is presented below.
12. Amongst the 115,000 mixed age couples entitled to and claiming Pension Credit or pensioner Housing Benefit as at the end of November 2018, approximately 56% were also claiming a disability benefit4 (Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment). This compares to approximately 61% for all couples claiming Pension Credit or pensioner Housing Benefit.
13. The vast majority of mixed age couples comprised a male and female partner, with an estimated less than 1% consisting of same sex partners.
14. 84% of these mixed age couples included an older partner (above State Pension age) who is male.
Statement of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics
The Code of Practice for Statistics (the Code) is built around 3 main concepts, or pillars:
The following explains how we have applied the pillars of the Code in a proportionate way.
Trustworthiness – is about having confidence in the people and organisations that publish statistics
Professional analysts have independently produced the forecast numbers affected and forecast expenditure from DWP forecasting models and have been fully quality assured by DWP analysts.
Quality – is about using data and methods that produce assured statistics
The figures presented are derived from forecasting models which feed into the department’s published benefit expenditure tables. The rigorous production of the forecast figures ensures they are our best central estimates of numbers affected and associated expenditure based on the information available. Figures have been independently quality-assured and validated.
Value – is about publishing statistics that support society’s needs for information
This release provides analysis relating to mixed age couples affected by the change in policy, to be implemented from 15 May 2019. In addition, it aims to reduce the administrative burden of answering Parliamentary Questions, Freedom of Information requests and ad hoc queries to ensure timely responses to public queries.
To support financial planning and management of departmental business, figures have been seen in advance by ministers and officials, in line with the Code, where pre-release access does not apply for an ad hoc analysis release.
For press enquiries, contact DWP Press Office on 0203 267 5144.
The minimum qualifying age for Pension Credit is aligned to the State Pension age for women which was equalised with men’s State Pension age in November 2018. ↩
Housing Benefit for persons who have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit. ↩
Either the main claimant or the partner are claiming a disability benefit. ↩