Reply To: pension planning


From a pure regs-based standpoint, I think the handbook is right to caution councils about this.

Reg 23 (over 60s edition) requires the council to adopt the AIF in SC cases but doesn’t say anything about using it for other cases. Reg 24 (over 60s edition) requires the council to calculate or estimate the claimant’s income in the normal over-60s way if s/he isn’t getting GC or SC. I haven’t seen anything in the Regs that allows the council to take a short cut, so if the council decides to use someone else’s already-prepared figures without checking them, that is a conscious choice of the council. It seems to me the council would be to blame if the other person had done something wrong in preparing those figures and the council of its own free will adopted the figures unchecked.

What the AIF will do for you in such cases is give you something to focus on in your evidence gathering: it’s a start, but no more than that.

Incidentally, I don’t think the AIF concept is intended as an administrative aid for councils and the DWP. I think it exists to avoid any danger of a worse-off trap for pensioners with incomes in the SC-only margin. If you are getting SC, HB and CTB, you have a combined withdrawal rate of 91p in the £, so it is vital that the DWP and council sing from the same hymn sheet with such a narrow margin of error. But if you don’t qualify for SC, that close co-ordination of figures is no longer so important and responsibility for checking income reverts to the council.

Having said that, it does seem a shame that the DWP does not appear to be planning any kind of subsidy concession for overpayments caused in this way. As you say, it does make administrative sense to adopt the DWP’s income assessment in a non-AIF case.