Pensioner / non pensioner couples

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    Hi all

    I have had a look at all the different postings about this issue, but I've got confused (not difficult in my case…)

    We are about to do some Welfare Reform overview training for our external community support groups so I want to be REALLY sure that I am advising them correctly on this matter.

    At the moment, if we have a pensioner and a non pensioner claiming HB / CTB, they will be a pensioner couple, no problem with that. I also know that in the future, the status of the couple will be determined by the age of the non pensioner, also no problem. What I am unsure about is when the change will take place? Is it only when UC comes in in October 2013 or is it in April 2013?

    We have had a query from a customer who is currently working, so not claiming, but he will be claiming in May 2013 as he will qualify for pension credit – his partner is in her 40's so will not be a pensioner for many years yet.

    They have asked if they will be affected by the room restriction for HB when they do claim in May 2013.

    Obviously if we class them according to his age, they won't be affected, as pensioners are excluded, but if the new rule comes in in April 2013, they will be.

    We originally thought, I must admit, that new claims from pensioner / non pensioner couples would be assessed under the new rules from April 2013, but having read the HBInfo thread and also seen a posting about what Steve Webb had said in Parliament, we are now thinking that these new claims will not be treated any differently until UC is introduced in October 2013.

    Help please!!


    I know there is a lot of rumour about this, but I have seen no concrete information to suggest that the following is not true:

    – for as long as HB exists, it will retain its current SPC/working age split: there are no plans to alter the rules on who is a pensioner and who is a working age claimant in HB.
    – people who are already on Pension Credit before UC starts to roll out will stay on it unless they have a change of circumstance that breaks their claim. There will be no managed migration of the legacy SPC split-age case load onto Universal Credit. There is no need – that case load will tend to phase itself out over a few years as the younger partners all reach SPC age. Once UC settles down into steady state by abouit 2017/18, there will only be a relatively small number of couples left who were already on SPC before 2013 and one of them is still under SPC age by that time, it isn’t worth devising a managed migration scheme for them.
    – new claims by split-age couples from late 2013 (or whenever the UC roll-out finally picks up speed) will be for UC, that is how the phasing will work. They will move off HB at the same time, or not claim it in the first place, so they are not your problem.
    – CTR copes with all of the above – split age couples on UC will be dealt with a working age CTR cases, while split-age couples on SPC will be pensioner CTR cases.

    I know there are rumours of a more aggressive phasing in of the UC age rules with legacy benefits affected as well (i.e. SPC itself and HB), but I honestly have not seen any official document to suggest that such a thing is going to happen.

    If anyone is privy to inside info that contradicts the above, please say so!


    Many thanks Peter, that’s great.

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