Jo critical of new benefit backdating rules

The new backdating rules affect those receiving pension credit, amongst others

Jo Swinson is advising her constituents of new rules introduced this month which mean that individuals will only be able to claim three months of backdated benefits, rather than the previous entitlement of twelve months.

The Government has announced that the maximum period of backdating for pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit are being reduced from one year to three months as part of a simplification of the system. But Jo has backed the view of the Citizens Advice Bureau, among others, that the new rules will risk increasing financial hardship. In particular, those with rent arrears who are unaware of their entitlement to housing benefit, and for those who have literacy problems, disabilities or language barriers, could be hit.

Jo said:

“I am strongly opposed to this change, as I am concerned about the impact it will have on low income families and pensioners in East Dunbartonshire. The Government has insisted that it needs to reduce the backdating periods in order to pay for a new system allowing pensioners to claim all of their benefits through one application.

“While I support the simplification of the benefits system, it should not be paid for by penalising a group of particularly vulnerable claimants. Given the Government’s track record on reforming the benefits system, I am not confident that this tinkering will provide the wholesale reform and simplification that the system badly needs.”

To apply for pension credit, constituents should call 0800 99 1234. Lines are open Monday to Friday between 8.00am – 8.00pm. To make enquiries about housing benefit and council tax benefit, constituents should contact their local Council office or visit the Council’s website

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