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Challenging the Age Gap Tax


Mind the gap

Why this deeply unfair decision threatens 40,000 older people over the next three years.



The Government is planning to change the way benefits are given to couples if there's an age gap between them. It's nothing short of an #AgeGapTax, and here's why this decision should be reversed.

What's happening?

Couples come in all shapes and sizes – and all ages too. Some are the same age as each other and others are at different stages of their lives.

Previously, when couples claiming benefits had an age gap between them, this is what happened:

  • When the older partner reached State Pension age, the couple stopped receiving working age benefits.
  • They started receiving pension age benefits instead.

Pensioner benefits are higher so this makes quite a difference to the couple's overall income, but the Government has decided to change this system – the latest in a long line of stealthy cuts to hit older people who are not very well off.

What do the Government's changes mean?

As of May 2019, if one partner is of working age the couple will only be able to receive working age benefits – in the future this will mean claiming Universal Credit.

They'll no longer be able to claim Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit. These benefits are a huge help because they top up their low incomes, taking the couple above the poverty line.

Because of this change, many of the poorest older people in the country could be a staggering £140 worse off a week. That's a drop in income of up to £7,000 a year. A few could lose even more. The change is only supposed to hit new claimants BUT if a couple's claim for Pension Credit is interrupted by just a day, or if they move area, they will lose it forever and suffer this big and immediate drop in how much money they receive as a result.

Share your story

If these changes have affected you, we'd like to hear from you and use your voice to show others how these plans have impacted real people.

James' story

James*, 63, from York lives with his wife Janet who reaches state pension age on 10 June 2019, when she will be 65 years 3 months old.

“My wife has been ill for some time with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, spondylosis, COPD and IBS. She is in constant pain. I do everything around the house, all of the shopping, taking my wife to the doctors/hospital and making sure she is as comfortable as possible.

She claims employment support allowance and I claim carers allowance as I had to give up my job to look after my wife.

The Government wants people like me who are younger than pensioner age to seek work rather than allowing us to claim pension credit as a couple. However, I cannot seek work because I care for my wife full-time.

When I checked the pension credit calculator just before the government announcement we would have received around £42 a week pension credit. We get by on the money we have but have had to make cut backs in recent years. This would have helped enormously – we will now not be entitled to this.

The difference would mean we would keep our car running so I can take my wife out for a change of scene when she has a good day.

Pension credit can have a knock on effect also it can effect council tax benefit, dental charges and warm home discount – if you’re denied it. This would mean even less money in our budget and the car would have to go.”

*Name and location has been changed to protect identity

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Last updated: Jul 27 2022

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